There Went the Bride

It was the eve of his wedding, he was preparing to host a dinner party for 100--and Perry Myers's bride to be had gone missing. Julianna Redd, 21, was supposed to have spent the day shopping with her parents near Provo, Utah, but by late afternoon Myers, 23, still hadn't heard from her or them. Frantically, Myers tells NEWSWEEK, he and others began phoning relatives. One call convinced Myers "that her physical well-being was actually in danger," and that's when he called the cops.

At first, Provo detectives considered the disappearance just another instance of premarital cold feet, another " Runaway Bride ." But this missing-persons case has turned out to be anything but mundane. Last week the Utah County attorney charged Julianna's parents with second-degree kidnapping in the Aug. 4 incident. According to the bride, who turned up safely the following day but missed the wedding, her parents had driven her against her will to Grand Junction, Colo., to prevent her from marrying Myers. If Julia Redd, 56, and Lemuel Hardy Redd, 59, are convicted, they could face between one and 15 years in prison. Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson insists that the parents' behavior merits the serious charges. "I don't want to send the message that it's OK for parents to kidnap adult children to force them to do what [the parents] want them to do," Bryson says.

The parents' attorney, Greg Skordas, says that whatever his clients did, it wasn't kidnapping. "What has been described to me is not a crime, either legally or factually," he says. The Salt Lake City criminal lawyer admits that the Redds, cattle ranchers from Monticello, Utah, traveled with Julianna to Colorado on Aug. 4, returning on Aug. 5--thereby causing her to miss the wedding. But he says both parents and daughter agreed that the trip gave the family a chance to "find out about the marriage" and "make sure that she was acting of her own volition." Skordas insists that Julianna went along willingly. "She never gave them the impression that she was being held against her will," he says. "In their mind, she was free to leave, and she never protested."

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Skordas declined to discuss why the parents didn't want their daughter to marry. "I can't discuss my conversations with my clients," he says. But Julianna told an interviewer with The Salt Lake Tribune that they had tried to talk her out of marrying several times, even before the trip. Both she and Myers, seniors at Brigham Young University, have insisted that the parents' do not dislike the groom. "Honestly, it had nothing to do with me," Myers told NEWSWEEK. "It's just family issues about control." (Julianna, who declined to speak with NEWSWEEK, supported this view in her few interviews with Utah reporters.) Whatever their reasons opposing the union, Myers says, the Redds had certainly accepted the invitation to the prewedding dinner, and said they were coming to the wedding.

The alleged kidnapping seems to have begun benignly enough. Around 11 a.m. on Aug. 4, Julianna's parents picked her up, ostensibly to visit a store in nearby Orem. But instead, they headed to Colorado, says Capt. Rick Healey, head of the detectives unit with the Provo Police Department. Police and prosecutors refuse to discuss the trip in detail, to preserve future testimony. But prosecutor Bryson confirmed that when the young woman insisted on stopping at a rest stop, her parents escorted her to the bathroom, and then forced her back into the van to continue the trip. They spent the night at a hotel in Grand Junction.

The next day, Julianna convinced her parents to return to Utah only by promising "not to call me again," Myers says. When the three returned to Provo late Saturday afternoon, several hours after the aborted wedding, Myers and his family were waiting at her apartment. So were the police, who interviewed Lemuel and Julia Redd but did not arrest them.

The couple finally married on Tuesday, at the main Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in downtown Salt Lake. The bride's parents did not attend.

Police still haven't arrested the Redds. Instead, the county attorney issued a summons for them to appear at an Oct. 26 hearing where they will be booked and are expected to enter a not-guilty plea. Even if they are convicted at a subsequent trial, prosecutor Bryson doesn't think Lemuel and Julia Redd will ever serve hard time. "I would not expect them to go to prison in this case. I think it highly unlikely," he says. More likely is a probationary period in which they might pay fines, do local jail time or undergo counseling. Nonetheless, Bryson says the newly married Julianna Myers is "resolute in wanting to move forward with this prosecution. She didn't think it was right, and neither do I."

Her husband says she is eager to help with the prosecution, but not to get back at her parents. "She doesn't want to muddy the family name anymore than it is," he says, which is why she has stopped talking to the press. While the episode is "very sad," Myers says, "She's actually not that angry. She's just sorry for them."

Meanwhile, Julianna Myers has already revisited the scene of the alleged crime. After the wedding, the newlyweds drove to Vail, Colo., for a honeymoon. The road led through Grand Junction. He says he joked, "I told her, 'You might want to close your eyes for a little bit'." When dealing with unpleasant family situations, that's certainly a better method than some.