DULUTH, Ga. – When runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks (search) made her way home after running away just days before her wedding, John Mason was waiting to give something to his fiancée.
"The first thing I gave to her when I saw her was her diamond back. ... She put it right on her finger," Mason told FOX News' Sean Hannity in an exclusive interview that aired Monday at 9 p.m. EDT.
Mason, a 32-year-old office manager whom authorities questioned as a possible suspect in Wilbanks' disappearance, said her case of cold feet did nothing to change how he feels about her.
"'Cause we haven't walked down the aisle, just because we haven't stood in front of 500 people and said our I dos, you know, my commitment before God to her was the day I bought that ring and put it on her finger and I'm not backing down from that now," Mason told Hannity.
Mason and Wilbanks, 32, were reunited Saturday night — the night they were to be married — when she returned to Georgia (search) from New Mexico.
Wilbanks vanished Tuesday after saying she was going out jogging. She initially told authorities she had been abducted, but later admitted she took a cross-country bus trip to Las Vegas, Nev., and then went on to Albuquerque, N.M.
Duluth Police Chief Randy Belcher said at a Monday press conference that Wilbanks told him a Hispanic male and a white female had jumped her from behind.
"At this point, she did violate Georgia law by advising me that she had been kidnapped," Belcher said.
He said Wilbanks bought a Greyhound bus ticket to Austin, Texas, a week before running away April 26. That day, she had a taxi pick her up at the local library and take her to the bus terminal in Atlanta.
She never made it to Austin, instead getting off in Dallas and buying a ticket to Las Vegas. She spent some time in Vegas, hanging out at the bus station most of the time, before going to Albuquerque, N.M., authorities said.
Mason and his fiancée's father, Harris Wilbanks, who also appeared on "Hannity & Colmes," said Wilbanks is working on releasing a written statement.
"She just needs some space and some time," Mason said. "She just wants the whole world to know she's very, very sorry."
There was word Tuesday that Wilbanks' lawyer has stepped down, since the civil case could turn into a criminal case and he isn't a criminal attorney, according to local television reports.
On Tuesday, Mason's father said he's advising that things in the future move slowly.
Claude Mason, a former mayor of Duluth and a local judge, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he has suggested to his son to "take it slow and if this is what you still want, we're behind you."
Asked whether he would be anxious if the couple heads into another big wedding, Claude Mason said, "I have mixed emotions about that. I think the wedding plans got a bit out of hand, but I couldn't say a whole lot. I'm the father of the groom."
But if her family is ready to forgive the jittery bride, authorities are still peeved.
In Georgia, the Gwinnett County district attorney noted that vast law-enforcement resources were used to look for the missing bride for more than three days.
D.A. Danny Porter said Monday he will conduct a thorough investigation — which could take weeks — before deciding whether to charge Wilbanks for falsely claiming she had been kidnapped.
Wilbanks could face a misdemeanor charge of making a false report of a crime or a felony charge of making false statements, according to Porter. The misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to a year in jail; five years in prison is the maximum sentence for the felony.
Authorities said they are looking into the possibility of suing Wilbanks for the estimated $40,000 to $60,000 cost of searching for her. That option would have to be approved by the city council.
"We feel a tad betrayed, and some are very hurt about it," Mayor Shirley Lasseter said.
As about whether Wilbanks needs psychological help instead of court action, Porter told NBC, "You weigh that in the sentencing."
"I may agree she doesn't deserve prison time, but you can't force someone to get help unless you get them under the control of the court, or force them to pay for the police resources unless you get them under the control of the court," Porter said. "There is a big difference about what will happen in the end and the decision to charge."
Porter had no jurisdiction over Wilbanks' initial 911 call in Albuquerque, in which she said she was kidnapped by a man and a woman in their 40s who were driving a blue van. Sobbing, she told the dispatcher that they had a handgun.
Lasseter added that town officials want to hear from Wilbanks' family, to see if perhaps there was a good reason for the woman's disappearance.
"I would love to hear from the family and know there might have been a problem and know we should work with this lady on some recourse other than legally," she said.
Carter Brank, an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said he had spoken with Wilbanks, but she "didn't come right out and apologize."
"She was somewhat remorseful for what she had done," he said. "She cried a little bit, showed some emotion."
Wilbanks' father said his daughter claims she did not know about all the media attention surrounding her disappearance. He said she did not see a television during her trip and only once read a newspaper, but it made no mention of her.
Mason appealed to the prosecutor not to file charges against his fiancée.
"Her cutting her hair and getting on a bus and riding out of here ain't none of Danny Porter's business," Mason said. "And that's not criminal as far as I'm concerned."
During Wilbanks' absence, media and law enforcement scrutinized Mason and his possible role in her disappearance. Mason was not helped by the high-profile stories of Scott Peterson (search) and Mark Hacking — husbands who reported their wives missing, only to be charged and then convicted of their murders.
Far from being angry with Wilbanks, Mason said he was "happy" about the outcome.
"She's come to the conclusion that she needs some help on some things, and if it took this to get her to it, praise God, she's there. ... We're going to get her help and we're going to get her right again," he said.
Asked to describe Wilbanks, Mason — a Sunday school teacher and church youth basketball coach — said she was loving, caring, welcoming to others and gracious.
"She's awesome. ... She had a lot of confusion and a lot of hurt for herself," he said.
Mason also offered a broad message of forgiveness.
"Ain't we all messed up? Ain't we all made mistakes?" he asked.
Mason and Wilbanks were supposed to have gotten married last Saturday before 600 guests. No new wedding date has been set.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.