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Runaway Bride to Face Charges?; Interview With Duluth Mayor

Aired May 2, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to a brand new week here.
The thought of saying "I do" made her run and hide. But her cross-country disappearing act has made her the center of much unwanted attention.


ZAHN (voice-over): She was just a nervous bride-to-be until her private panic turned into a nightmare and a bus ride to Vegas into unwanted fame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm going, what is this all about? And they say, that is the runaway bride.

ZAHN: Facing her friends, family and fiance was bad enough, but it could get even worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first is false report of a crime, which is a misdemeanor and the second is false statements, which is a felony. There are some people who are really angry.

ZAHN: Tonight, Jennifer Wilbanks now and forever the runaway bride.


ZAHN: Well, of course, nobody wants that kind of attention. In less than a week, Jennifer Wilbanks has gone from total anonymity to a woman walking around with a towel on her head to an object of national fascination. Just everybody you talk to has an opinion about it.

And her friends and family are relieved that she's safe and sound. And her fiance, John Mason, says he still wants to marry her. But everyone is puzzled about why she ran away and probably more than a bit concerned about what could be a really expensive deception.


ZAHN (voice-over): The marriage of Jennifer Wilbanks and John Mason was supposed to be a beautiful society wedding. Some 600 guests received invitations. Eight bridal showers were thrown. And according to "The New York Post," an estimated $10,000 in wedding gifts were purchased from the couple's three registries, gifts that included Lenox china place settings for 12, Waterford crystal and silverware from Kate Spade. PAT GALLANTE, GEORGIA EVENT PLANNER: I would say we're looking at probably a $50,000 to $60,000 event easily.

ZAHN: According to "Brides" magazine, Jennifer's 14 bridesmaids easily could have shelled out $800 each on gifts, dresses and bridal showers. But now Jennifer's case of cold feet has many people in Duluth, Georgia, tabulating what they see as a massive waste of cold, hard cash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very angry with her for doing that to her family and to the city of Duluth.

ZAHN: Jennifer's disappearance sparked a massive search by local, state and federal law enforcement, not to mention the 400 volunteers who took time off from their work and families to hand out flyers and help in the search.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's called Park Left Lane.

ZAHN: All 55 members of the Duluth Police Department worked overtime.

RANDY BELCHER, DULUTH, GEORGIA, POLICE CHIEF: We've exhausted our manpower. We've turned over probably every leaf in this city.

ZAHN: Jennifer's family came up with $100,000 reward to help with her safe return, but some think that money might be better spent on the tab that Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter estimates will be $75,000 for 5,616 billable hours of work by 78 city employees.

As for Jennifer's contributions to her high cost hoax? According to average prices, about $170 on her Greyhound bus ticket to Las Vegas. Add another $150 for her overnight stay in Sin City. The price of her haircut? Well, investigators say it was free. Jennifer apparently cut it herself.


ZAHN: And joining me now from Duluth, Georgia, the mayor, Shirley Lasseter.

Good of you to join us.

Mayor Lasseter, you took part in the search for this young woman, along with 400 volunteers who distributed pamphlets. When you found out that you were dealing with a runaway bride and not a kidnapping victim, what was your reaction?

SHIRLEY LASSETER, MAYOR OF DULUTH, GEORGIA: Deceived, upset, totally baffled that this situation could happen. And yet, I have to tell you that, on the other hand, I was very relieved, because I just never could imagine how anything like could happen like that in Duluth.

ZAHN: How angry are people today now that they know all the facts, or most of the facts, at least? LASSETER: Well, I'll say about 98 percent of my 350 e-mails over the weekend are angry.

They want -- they'd like to see some retribution. They would like to see her pay a debt back to society for what everybody emotionally gave to her when we thought there was something very serious wrong. They'd like to see her do community service work. They'd like to see her work with a crisis center hot line, so she'll understand the emotion on the other side. They'd like to see her pay it back. There are a myriad of suggestions.

ZAHN: Mayor, I know you spent the better part of the day trying to add up some of the expenditures involved in the search for Jennifer Wilbanks.

LASSETER: At this point, by end of the day, we are at $60,000 approximately. And that's with 78 employees, 39 of those in the police department, and with overtime and everything else. That does not include four of our other departments, like the Planning Department and Public Works and Parks and Rec and the Business Office that worked to help do flyers and pass out things and get food and so forth.

And it also does not include fuel or food that we bought or any of the extraneous things like that.

ZAHN: Mayor Lasseter, does the city of Duluth plan to file charges against Jennifer Wilbanks?

LASSETER: What we're planning on right now is to look at our options, explore those options, and see whether or not, with the advisement of our attorney, Lee Thompson, if those are avenues that we feel like would be beneficial for the city and something that we think that the citizens would be proud of us to do.

ZAHN: If the family foots the bill of these expenses you're talking about, do you think that might not be necessary?

LASSETER: That is a decision that will be left up to myself and the rest of the council. It just depends. I don't think this is all about money at all.

ZAHN: Well, I know Mayor Lasseter, you've got a lot to explore here. The district attorney's office basically telling us tonight it could be many weeks before they finish their investigation and they make a decision whether they file charges.

Good luck as you continue to investigate.

LASSETER: Thank you very kindly.


ZAHN: There were two other things the district attorney has just confirmed in the last hour in a news conference about what he will be able to do. He says the law allows him to charge Jennifer Wilbanks with two crimes, one a misdemeanor, which would be filing a false police report. The second option he has is to charge her with making false statements to authorities. We are expecting the district attorney of Gwinnett County to join us sometime in this hour. He's a very busy man. As soon as he becomes available, he'll be joining us.

Now, it wasn't hard for us to nominate John Mason as one of your persons for person of the day. Why Jennifer's fiance, you ask? Well, some of you thinking for getting a second chance to think about going through with the marriage. Now, while we're at it, here are some of the other picks, first lady Laura Bush for her sense of humor at her husband's expense on full display at the White House correspondents dinner over the weekend, and teenagers Josh Long and Tony Driscoll. In a miraculous story, they actually survived on saltwater and jellyfish while lost at sea for six long days, when a lot of people had basically given up hope that they'd still be alive.

Please vote at The winner a little bit later on in this hour.

Still ahead, you know what they say. There's one born every minute.


ALEX BOESE, CURATOR, MUSEUM OF HOAXES: Anybody in the world now has the potential capability of fooling millions of people.


ZAHN: America's love affair with hoaxes and the people who pull them off.

And, a little bit later on, more on Jennifer Wilbanks, the latest in a long line of people who got cold feet.


ZAHN: And we continue our coverage now of the runaway bride.

There is no indication that, when Jennifer Wilbanks hit the road, she intended to fool anyone or set off a nationwide search. But when she did stop running, she claimed she was abducted, rather than admit to having cold feet. If she planned a hoax from the beginning, she wouldn't be the first.

Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The finger in the chili, the money in the backyard and now the bride and the blanket. Jennifer Wilbanks' whopper completes a trifecta of recent hoaxes being enshrined in San Diego's Museum of Hoaxes.

Alex Boese is curator and says, with 24-hour news channels, the Internet and instant messages, there's a reason hoaxes seem to hit more often.

BOESE: The fact is that we're asked to accept a lot more information from a far wider variety of sources. So, as a consequence, we're far more vulnerable to misinformation than I think we ever were in the past.

FOREMAN: He says Jennifer's story began like all great hoaxes do, with the truth. She really did disappear, leaving behind baffled police, anxious parents and a worried fiance.

MIKE SATTERFIELD, UNCLE OF JENNIFER WILBANKS: We love Jennifer very much. We would give our life and everything that we own to have her returned.

FOREMAN: So when she showed up telling a tale of abduction hours before her grand wedding was to occur...

BOESE: You don't want to think that this bride is actually running away from this and is just terrified by this whole thing. You want the fairy tale wedding.

FOREMAN: Studies at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have found that, while women favor white lies to protect other people's feelings, men lead toward lies of self-preservation. Scott Peterson murdered his wife, but claimed she was missing.

Boston's infamous Charles Stewart killed his wife and said a black man was to blame.

(on camera): Maybe that's why polls have shown, for many years, that people trust women more than they do men. Maybe that accounts for some of the outrage over the runaway bride.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: She allowed her fiance -- if he wasn't involved in any way, shape or form, she allowed him to become a murder suspect.

FOREMAN: Still, the nation has a love/hate relationship with deception. In the 1800s, circus man P.T. Barnum made a fortune displaying mermaids. "War of the Worlds," which fooled a lot of radio listeners, is coming out as a movie again.

These days, the Internet has sharks attacking helicopters and instructions for making miniature bonsai kittens, all worth about as much as Enron stock. Back at the Hoax Museum, Alex says all it takes is a computer and a connection.

BOESE: Anybody in the world now has the potential capability of fooling millions of people.

FOREMAN: Of course, that technology can reveal a deception just as fast. Within days of Jennifer Wilbanks' disappearance, the nation was looking for her, accelerating the end of her hoax. Oh, and when you're in San Diego, don't try to visit the Museum of Hoaxes. Living up to its name, it exists only online.


ZAHN: Well, that figures. Tom Foreman reporting.

Joining me now from Duluth, Georgia, Gwinnett County district attorney Danny Porter, who has some big decisions to make about whether to charge Jennifer Wilbanks.

Good of you to join us after a very hectic weekend.

I know you have just confirmed in a news conference that you have the latitude to charge her with two separate things. One is charging her for a false police report or perhaps making false statements to authorities. Are either one of those charges likely to be filed?

DANNY PORTER, GWINNETT COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, it's too early to tell. And I want to get all the investigation together, look at all the facts, and then make my decision, first of all, whether or not there's going to be a prosecution, and, second of all, which charge is the most appropriate under all the facts.

And I think that's what all the questions have been about today. There is no smoking gun in this case. It's a mosaic of facts that go to her state of mind and what she knew and what she could have anticipated. And all those will play a factor.

ZAHN: So what are the pieces of the puzzle that are missing tonight as you weigh your decision?

PORTER: There are -- we don't know exactly what she did while she was in Las Vegas. There seems to be some conflict in the evidence in that.

I don't know the exact details of the statement that she gave in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I don't have the tape of the call here to Gwinnett County. And that hasn't been transcribed, so I know generally what it is, but -- and I don't have the final scientific reports. They've been done by the GBI, but they haven't been published yet.

ZAHN: The Albuquerque officials are telling us tonight they have decided themselves not to go through with filing any charges. Will that have any bearing on your actions?

PORTER: No, probably not. I respect their decision.

They had the most clear-cut jurisdictional issue, but they had very little involvement in the case. It was kind of a grounder for them. And so I respect their decision not to get involved in it. We have a much greater involvement in the case and a much greater investment in the case and a much greater interest in the case. So, I don't really have any problem that they deferred to us, but I'm not going to be controlled by their decision.

ZAHN: Earlier this evening, we spoke with the mayor of Duluth and she said she is seeking retribution. And she said the city council has a big decision to make, whether in fact they would find it acceptable for the family to pay her anywhere -- or pay the city anywhere from $60,000 to $75,000 for the expenses incurred in her search.

Is that going to have any impact on you and your decision?

PORTER: Well, certainly, certainly restitution could be made as part of the criminal case. And if it was paid to the city before the resolution of any criminal case, then, of course, the restitution figure would be zero.

I think I'd have to sit down talk with the officials in Duluth and some of the other officials. I think what we're really talking about here is consequences. Whether there are criminal prosecution or whether there are some other meaningful alternative, I think the agreement here is that there should be some consequences to what happened here.


PORTER: I'm not locked into criminal prosecution, but that's what I do. I prosecute.

ZAHN: I know the mayor was saying a lot of people are enraged that this was such an abuse of taxpayers' money. What have you seen among the population?

PORTER: Well, I think, actually, talking to people, it's been fairly mixed. I think the more telling thing is, on my e-mail yesterday and today, I got about 400 e-mails. They're running about 7-1 that she should be prosecuted. And people seem more free to express their frustration in an anonymous e-mail, and I've been certainly getting a lot of that.

ZAHN: Is Jennifer Wilbanks sorry about what has happened?

PORTER: I wasn't there when she was interviewed. I think the GBI agent, Agent Brank, said that she expressed remorse, but didn't seem remorseful.

Sometimes, I'm not sure she has the capability for remorse. I'm not even sure she really understands the magnitude of what happened here.

ZAHN: You have a look of skepticism on your face. Is it because you...



ZAHN: So, help me. I don't want to read the tea leaves for you.

PORTER: Right.

ZAHN: Just give me a better sense of why you're reacting to that and why you don't think she might be capable of understanding the magnitude of this crime she could potentially be charged with?

PORTER: Well, I can only go back to the Saturday morning at about 1:30 when the first report was made here in Duluth. When the officers came out and explained it to me, I just -- I knew it wasn't true. I've been doing this too long. I knew it wasn't true then.

There's something about the statement she gave today that doesn't ring completely true. And, to tell you the truth, I think that her absorption with herself is so great that she just really doesn't understand what the consequences of what she did are. I mean, she said that she never thought that there would be a search for her. Well, that just doesn't make sense.

ZAHN: Is it possible that perhaps, if she's charged with something, she's better off with some psychological help, as opposed to serving any time in a penal institution?

PORTER: Well, you know, I think that's the thing that people are getting confused about, is that charging someone with a crime doesn't necessarily mean they're going to go to prison.

If they're convicted, there's a whole lot of options that can be used to resolve problems. It's not the world's best scalpel, but you can do a lot of things with a criminal prosecution that go to treatment and restitution and counseling and volunteer service and community service.

There's a lot of options available to us, but we have to get her under the control of the court to exercise those options.

ZAHN: Well, district attorney Danny Porter, we really appreciate your time, your information. And we'd love to have you back when you get closer to making a decision here.


ZAHN: Thanks again for joining us tonight.

You can look at Jennifer Wilbanks' story two ways, as a hoax or just a nervous bride's cold feet. Jeanne Moos looks at that angle in just a bit.

And, a little bit later on "NEWSNIGHT" tonight, please join Aaron Brown for an in-depth look at how this story unfolded. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead, North Korea sets off nuclear jitters. Who is the man with his fingers on the button? An inside and fascinating look at the great leader -- that's what they call him -- Kim Jong Il.

First, just about 22 minutes past the hour. Erica Hill at Headline News standing by to update us on some of the other stories unfolding tonight.

Hi, Erica.


We start off with the search under way for the pilots of two Marine Corps FA-18 fighter jets that collided on a mission in Iraq. Now, the Navy says it happened in bad weather. There were no signs of hostile fire.

A guilty plea from Lynndie England, the private who posed next to naked Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. She told a military judge in Ft. Hood, Texas: "Yes, sir. It was wrong." She pleaded guilty to abusing detainees, conspiracy and committing an indecent act. CNN has learned a possible 11 years in prison could now be reduced to two years or less.

The prosecution in the Michael Jackson trial spent the day trying to link telephone calls made between Jackson's associates and the woman who claims her son was molested. Prosecutors think it could prove that she was being intimidated. His defense calls it irrelevant.

And this one hitting close to home for us, Paula. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, says computer tapes with personal information for as many as 600,000 current and former employees was lost by an outside contractor. They don't think it's foul play, but the Secret Service is looking into it. And anyone who may have been associated with the company may want to look into their own credit reports.

ZAHN: We hope there's no foul play involved. Thanks, Erica. We're going to check in with you in about a half hour or so.

North Korea launches new nuclear worries. Who's the man behind it all?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if anybody takes him on, you've heard about their gulags. They are gigantic. It's Holocaust stuff. You don't cross this guy or you're dead.


ZAHN: Sizing up the diminutive leader Kim Jong Il. And we're going to take you inside his secret communist state, what life is really like in North Korea for him and his people.

Please stay with us.


ZAHN: The nuclear threat from the world's most isolated nation has just escalated. Over the weekend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who really does have weapons of mass destruction, launched a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan. That raised tensions. And today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned North Korea that the U.S. was more than ready to meet a military threat.

But just who is the leader of this nation? Part man, part myth, Kim Il Jong is the focus of tonight's "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."


ZAHN (voice-over): Though Kim Jong Il more or less operated in the shadow of his dominant father throughout the '70s and '80s, he does appear to have been quite active and quite ruthless behind the scenes.

Western intelligence has long blamed Kim for a number of deadly terrorist attacks, a 1983 bombing that killed several South Korean Cabinet members and the downing of a South Korean airliner in 1987 that killed 115 people. In 1994, however, it was North Korea that was in mourning. Kim Il Sung died of a heart attack. People wept in the streets as Kim Jong Il took his father's place as head of state. And, by this time, Kim's state was in near total collapse.

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It got so bad that a very proud government which has had a philosophy of juche, or self-reliance, and not asking for anything from the rest of the world, was forced in an unprecedented step to ask for international food aid.

ZAHN: In return for concessions on North Korea's developing nuclear program, Kim Jong Il received massive food and oil shipments from the U.S. He even went so far as to open up a dialogue with some of his former foes in Asia. And, in October 2000, a high point. Then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright became the highest ranking American official to ever visit Pyongyang. Kim put on quite a performance.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I thought to myself at that time, it takes a dictator to make 100,000 people dance in step. Kim Jong Il said that everybody had volunteered to do this -- big grain of salt there -- and that he himself had taken a personal interest in the dancing and the color of the costumes and the various production numbers.

And later, at a dinner, he said that he would really have loved to have been a movie director.

ZAHN: Movies apparently do color Kim's world. Some of his favorites include "James Bond," the "Friday the 13th" slasher films, and Daffy Duck cartoons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is fascinated with media. Reportedly, he has a collection of 20,000 videotapes, which many have said shape his view of the West.

ZAHN: Kim's fascination with film even led to a very bizarre crime, the 1978 kidnapping of a South Korean director and his actress wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he first met her, he said to her, well, Madame Choi, you must be surprised to see that I resemble the droppings of a midget. So, there's a lot of insecurity, not just politically, but personally. ZAHN: In 1986, Madame Choi and her husband slipped away from their guards while shooting a film in Vienna, Austria. They were free after eight years of captivity.

But other kidnappings have ended much differently. Kim has admitted that, in the '70s, North Korea sent teams into Japan to seize a dozen of its citizens. According to him, it was to teach North Korean agents to speak Japanese. By Kim's account, most of the captives have since died.

Over the last decade, Kim's own people have also suffered. A U.S. congressional report estimates that two million people have starved to death in North Korea over the last 10 years. But, for Kim, there is always plenty to eat and enjoy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He lives in a seven-story pleasure palace. He has recruited at the junior high school level -- attractive young women -- to become members of what are called the "Joy Brigades" to be providing pleasure and relaxation to the hard-working officials of his inner circle.

ZAHN: Another example of Kim's extravagance, copious amounts of top shelf cognac. According to the manufacturers of Hennessy cognac, Kim's annual bill at one time ran between $650 and $720,000 a year for their most expensive cognac.

Kim Jong-il reigns over North Korea with an iron fist, controlling every aspect of life in this mysterious society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if anybody takes him on -- you've heard about the gulags, they are gigantic. It's holocaust stuff. You don't cross this guy or you're dead.

ZAHN: Loyalty is paramount, even among a population suffering through famine and drought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim regularly talks to the Korean people about the need to sacrifice, to pursue their goals of "juche" which means "self-reliance."

ZAHN: Beyond ignoring the suffering of his own people, Kim has also become increasingly reluctant when dealing with the outside world, especially since President Bush put North Korea on America's most wanted list.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: North Korea has a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world.

ZAHN: In October of 2002, the U.S. said that North Korea had admitted to having a secret nuclear weapons program, sparking even more angry threats from Pyongyang.

PYONGYANG (through translator): The Democratic People's Republic of Korea will immediately revive the old Soviet-designed nuclear reactor and resume construction of other nuclear facilities.

ZAHN: Since that ominous statement, North Korea has pulled out of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and now CIA Director Porter Goss says that Kim Jong-il's nuclear arsenal has grown since his country was labeled part of the axis of evil. But would North Korea's reclusive leader actually use his weapons of mass destruction?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a matter of fact, North Korean leader is smart and strategic and brilliant. I don't think he's stupid to use nuclear bomb for any country because he knows that by triggering one bomb, means the end of North Korea.

ZAHN: North Korea's economy is deteriorating. It has almost nothing to export other than its military prowess and the willingness to use it. For Kim Jong-il, brinkmanship may be the only ace in a very poor hand.


ZAHN (on camera): By the way, North Korea's latest nuclear challenge comes as nearly 200 countries, including the United States, begin a review of the international treaty aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons. That could go on for a month or so.

So, what is life really like under North Korea's so-called dear leader? We're going to get a rare glimpse inside the secret world of North Korea.


ZAHN: A glimpse inside North Korea is very rare, and its leader, Kim Jong-il, called "the general" by his people, likes to keep it that way. But, now, two filmmakers have managed to get inside that secret state for almost a year to shoot a behind-the-scenes look at the cult of Kim Jong-il. Alina Cho has our report.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The scene seems all too familiar.

It could be any Korean-American household in America, but it's not. It's North Korea, a secret world, a closed society, until now.

The documentary "A State of Mind" is the work of two British filmmakers, Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner, who filmed North Korea as it's never been seen by the Western world. It is February, 2003, the beginning of an eight-month project.

DANIEL GORDON, DIRECTOR "A STATE OF MIND": And we couldn't believe a thing when we were granted the access to go into homes, to go into schools, to go into workplaces, that kind of thing that they would actually follow through and do that for us. But there was an awful lot of trusting follow-up.

CHO: "A State of Mind" is about the mass games, and the people who participate in them. The concept is simple. No single person is more important than the whole.

It really seems to be the ultimate metaphor for communism.

GORDON: And really it was the, you know, metaphor for the country. Everything's about the team, and, trying to flip that, we took it from our own sort of Western perspective, that we wanted to find out about the individual within that team.

CHO: The filmmakers followed two North Korean schoolgirls, chosen by the government, as they train for the mass games: 13-year- old Pakian Yan Si (ph), and 11-year-old Kim Song Yon (ph). They are two of the country's best young gymnasts.

GORDON: At first, they were very stand-offish. I mean, we're the first Westerners they'd ever set eyes on.

CHO: Much of the day is spent training.

So much has been made in the film about the training. How demanding is it? How important is it.

GORDON: Have you ever tried to do a cartwheel on concrete? It is unbelievable.

CHO: At home, state radio is piped to every kitchen, every morning.

You can't turn the volume off.

GORDON: No, you can turn it right down and -- but we can't turn it off.

CHO: The TV is a gift from the government, a reward for Yan Si's performance in the 2002 mass games. There's only one channel, and only for five hours a day. You see, most nights here are spent without electricity.

GORDON: The power went and we carried on filming and ended up being quite funny moment within the film when the lights go back on.

CHO: But do they hate the United States or do they fear the United States?

NICK BONNER, ASSOC. PROD., "A STATE OF MIND": It's a bit of both I think. They've got a reason to hate the Americans cause of the Korean War, this horrendous war. And they see, because the way their government interprets it, that it is due to U.S. policies that they've had these problems.

CHO: Yet, students learn English.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I go (INAUDIBLE) with my brother.


CHO: But current events are taught from a North Korean point of view. Take the Iraq war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through captions): Where are the US imperialist aggressors attacking at the moment?

CLASS (through captions): Iraq.

CHO: You get the sense at times, when you're watching this, that they're brain-washed.

GORDON: Brainwashed is a word that consistently comes out when you're dealing with that kind of conscience and our perceptions of that. Ultimately, the film remains nonjudgmental.

CHO: A parade on the eve of the Mass games. This is a massive display of organized devotion for their dear leader, Kim Jong Il.

GORDON: As they march past, they cry mansay (ph), which means "long live."

CHO: More than a million North Koreans take part in the festival. All the way, Jen-Sen (ph) and Soon-Yun (ph) and hundreds of thousands of little girls just like them are in their final rehearsals.

The goal is perfection. The general would accept nothing less.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated on screen): I'm wondering whether our father the General will actually turn up for our performance. If he can't make it, we will be really disappointed.

CHO: Millions of man-hours go into training for the Mass games, with the most intensive preparations in the final hours. Soon-Yun (ph) is selected to perform in the second row, a high honor for an 11- year-old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated on screen): Now our moves have nearly been perfected. When the dear Generalissimus comes to watch the Mass games, I will definitely perform with perfect moves.

CHO: The older Jen-Sen (ph) is already a veteran. This is her fourth Mass games. She's 13.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated on screen): finally, when the day came and our act was about to start, I was extremely nervous.

CHO: Jen-Sen (ph) and Soon-Yun (ph) perform brilliantly. The results of endless hours, days and months of training is perfect execution.

The girls perform twice a day for 20 days. But their father, the general, never shows up.

When it's all over, both of the girls immediately begin training for the next Mass games, in the hopes they will next time perform for their leader.


ZAHN: It's remarkable what they do with their bodies. They may have a long wait before their father ever sees one of their performances. CNN's Alina Cho.

This extraordinary documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival here in New York last week. It will open around the country coming up this August.

Still ahead, a group where the runaway bride can feel right at home.

And then the story of this dramatic rescue at sea, when we come back.


ZAHN: Still ahead, she may be in a lot of trouble tonight, but the runaway bride is in pretty good company as she joins a rogue's gallery of those who bugged out. First, though, time to check in with Erica Hill of HEADLINE NEWS to update us on some of the other stories this evening.

HILL: Paula, two months after the complaint about poor training, the government report confirms the people who screen your bags at the airport aren't always getting the security training they need. The General Accounting Office found staff shortages and computer glitches that affect nearly half of the nation's 45,000 security screeners.

The search for a Boy Scout who fell overboard this weekend on a New Jersey whale-watching cruise has been suspended because of bad weather. The 14-year-old wasn't wearing a life jacket and slipped beneath the 49-degree waters before he could grab a rescue ring.

And check out these dramatic pictures. Ninety-four lives being saved by the U.S. Navy and a German ship, who came to the rescue of passengers whose boat capsized in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. At least five people drowned. The Navy says the vessel was being tracked for security reasons when it began taking on water.

And that's the latest from HEADLINE NEWS at this hour. Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Incredible to watch. Erica, thanks so much.

We're moving up on the 9:00 hour. "LARRY KING LIVE" standing by to bring us up to date on who's going to be joining him tonight. Hi, Larry.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi, doll. We have a very interesting show tonight. Dr. Phil will be here. And the subject will be an old friend of yours, Pat O'Brien. Pat O'Brien's coming back to the airwaves this week after a rehab stint and some embarrassing tapes, and he's going to be a special guest on the Dr. Phil special on Wednesday night. And Dr. Phil will be here tonight to give us a preview of it. That's Dr. Phil at the top of the hour. ZAHN: All I know, Larry, is I worked with him in a number of different places at the CBS network and in local news in Los Angeles. And I don't think there's a better rounded broadcaster around. I hope he comes through this with flying colors.

KING: Me too. Hope so too.

ZAHN: Tell Dr. Phil hello.

KING: I will.

ZAHN: And I'd also like...

KING: Dr. Phil, she says hello.

ZAHN: And I'd also like for him to analyze sometime what's going on with the runaway bride. I'm sure he has some theories about what is lurking beneath the surface there. During the commercial break, can he do that for me, Larry?

KING: That will be the second thing we -- no, I'll cover that on the air.

ZAHN: All right. Look forward to it. We'll be watching you tonight, whether you get to my question or not.

When we come back, we know the runaway bride got cold feet, but you'll be surprised to learn where that term actually comes from.

And your choice for person of the day. Will it be the runaway bride's fiance? First lady Laura Bush for her sense of humor? Or the teen boys who survived six days lost at sea when everybody had pretty much given up on them?


ZAHN: Time now for our "Person of the Day." So, who is it? The nominees -- John Mason, fiance of the runway bride, for getting a second chance to think about marriage; First Lady Laura Bush for proving she has a great sense of humor over the weekend; or Josh Long and Troy Driscoll, the teenagers who survived six days lost at sea. And, you chose Josh Long and Troy Driscoll. Their story from Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One is still bandaged up in a hospital gown, the other, suffering second degree burns from the sun. But Troy Driscoll thinks he'd be dead if not for Josh Long.

TROY DRISCOLL, SURVIVED SIX DAYS AT SEA: I have to say I am a wimp for being alone, especially out in the waters, and I was just crying. I was like dude, if you leave me and if you give up on me man, I don't know what I'm going to do.

LAWRENCE: The riptide dragged their small boat out to sea, and the boys lost their fishing gear. But even after five days without food, Josh says, he never got hungry.

JOSH LONG, SURVIVED SIX DAYS AT SEA: I was always thirsty. I mean, I dreamed about...

DRISCOLL: Mountain Dew.

LONG: Mountain Dew.

LAWRENCE: They'd go swimming to cool off during the long, hot days until sharks chased them back onto the boat.

LONG: At night the waves were so bad, and they were just coming over the side of the boat, and -- couldn't sleep because we were sleeping in water and it was freezing cold.

LAWRENCE: They spent six days alone until spotted by a sport fishing boat heading up the coast.

LONG: I believe they're angels.


LONG: I just prayed for God to somebody and as soon as we lifted our heads, you were right there.

LAWRENCE: Troy Driscoll and Josh Long are not the same boys they were just two weeks ago.

LONG: What God did for us is worth telling everybody.

DRISCOLL: Because this is the biggest miracle in my life.

LAWRENCE: After they talked openly on the boat about dying, now realize just how much they've got to live for.

DRISCOLL: It helps a lot.


ZAHN: And, boy, do they have a lot to live for. They're very lucky young men. That was Chris Lawrence with our two persons of the day.

When we come back, why Jennifer Wilbanks shouldn't feel lonely in her new status as America's best-known runaway bride.



CARTER BRANK, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: She was, you know, she cried a little bit, showed some emotion. She didn't come right out and apologize. She appreciated the fact that a lot of people were working and trying to find her, and, you know, understood that people had worked hard. But you know, she didn't come to a full apology, but she was as I said, somewhat remorseful. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: That was an agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation earlier tonight describing the emotions of runway bride Jennifer Wilbanks who was brought home Saturday night under the cover of a blanket, as you could see. She may have gotten cold feet when it came to getting hitched, but she certainly created a hot market for merchandise. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She never made it down the aisle but did make it on to eBay, where jokesters are selling the runway bride wedding gift featuring hair color, fake hair and sunglasses. You can buy a Jennifer Wilbanks missing poster t-shirt or even size 9 runway bride running shoes. And of course, the runway bride's image on toast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think the boyfriend's going to take her back?

Reporter: If she had cold feet, you'd think his would be frozen by now. But getting cold feet happens a lot, and we don't just mean in the means.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bride seems to be a bit hesitant. She's turning, she's turning. Oh, she's running.


Reporter: Without the last-minute drama of the graduate, Rachel Safier and her fiance broke it off two weeks before the wedding.

RACHEL SAFIER, AUTHOR "THERE GOES THE BRIDE": I was engaged to a great guy who was not the guy for me and I felt physically ill and wrong.

Reporter: Out of that came this: "There Goes the Bride: Advice on How to Break Off Your Engagement." For instance, what to do about the ring.

SAFIER: You've got to give it back. It belongs to the person who bought it.

Reporter: But what if your fiance called off the wedding via text message? That's what a soccer player allegedly did to his Malaysian bride-to-be, typing, "We were not meant to be together."

Then there was the New York woman who made headlines for being left at the alter.

You don't hate this guy's guts?


Reporter: The best man showed up at the church, saying the groom wasn't coming. He resurfaced in Tahiti where they were supposed to honeymoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got that she still had feelings for another man.

Reporter: While we can't measure cold feet, there are stats for broken engagements.

SAFIER: Broken engagements -- the Catholic Church reports it at 15-20 percent of all engagements a year.

Reporter: Rachel says men are less sympathetic to the runaway bride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she should go to jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, she should need some psychotherapy.

Reporter: And where do they get the term "cold feet" anyway? Some say it comes from an Italian expression meaning, to have no money, as in unable to afford shoes. Others theorize "cold feet" came from soldiers who got out of fighting by saying their feet were frozen.

The New York woman who got left at the alter went on with the reception, leading guests onto the dance floor to "I Will Survive," a tune so catchy even cold feet unthaw.

But will the runway bride survive all the jokes about her wedding veil?


ZAHN: Well, according to the district attorney from Gwinnett County, she has an awful lot to sift through. Jeanne Moos reporting for us tonight.

Tomorrow night, court action, the BTK serial murder case. We're going to have the very latest and talk with people very close to the suspect. You'll meet some people who actually worked closely with him and can give us insight as to what may have gone wrong along the way. We'll also be talking with a district attorney in the case.

We hope you'll join us tomorrow night. In the meantime, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We'll be back, same time, same place. "LARRY KING LIVE" with Dr. Phil starts right now.



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