If things had gone differently for me, I could have been tempted to skip out without a concrete trace, take what money I had accessible to me, and run. I probably would have reassured my parents once I'd gotten to somewhere that I considered safe, true. Unless I'd been driven into a state of complete paranoia. Then I might not have re-surfaced for a good long time.
I don't think that I would choose, in a panicked, tripped-out state of mind, to claim that I'd been kidnapped. But, I don't know. I have no way of knowing, either, what was going through the mind of Jennifer Wilbanks when she skipped out and re-emerged halfway across the country. According to what she says, everything is fine with her fiancé, and the problems were mostly her vs. herself. I hope, for her sake, that it's as she says, and I hope that if getting married to this person now is not for her, that she has the strength to make sure that it does not happen.
Making a false claim of a crime is surely wrong, and it's fairly clear that it would most likely be just to charge her with doing just that. There's been a reasonably strong public outcry that she should also be made to pay back either some or all of the expenses associated with the (ultimately unnecessary) search for her. But I don't think that it would be just to stick her with the bill.
A commenter over at mamajoan's journal was able to articulate it better than I was. I thought that having Ms. Wilbanks serve community service to help make up for the expense and wasted time would be far more just than billing her for the monetary expenses. victoriacatlady agreed with me because a) if the woman does not have the money, then billing her would probably not get anything, and only serve to make her situation worse, or b) if the woman does have the money to pay up, then the fine may not have the desired impact, and instead might serve to strengthen a misconception that throwing money at any given problem can make things all better again. (Applying money to some situations does improve them beyond measure, but throwing cash at a wrongdoing does not make a right.) Having to pay in quality time spent improving the community in some fashion will help the community, will likely help her, and will stand a chance of being something she can do if she's not in a position to make financial amends, and will stand a chance of being something that will make an impact if paying the bill would not be a financial problem. (I am sure there is a distinct economic segment of the country that would be impressed by but could reasonably pay a $60 thousand debt on top of other financial obligations such as car, house, college, kids, even if it took a while. I'd guess it would be a pretty narrow segment.)
In general, I tend to approve of the idea of community service.
...and I still know, vividly, that if Sis and Darkside hadn't been at college with me to help me experience love and trust and know that my would-be marriage had neither, I, too, could have decided to take a long walk and not look back for a long time.