PROVO — For the first time in more than a year, the woman known to the world as “the kidnapped bride” on Wednesday faced her father, a man she hasn’t really talked to since she was dragged to Colorado last year against her will so that she would miss her wedding to a man her parents didn’t like.
But Julianna Redd Myers, whose parents were charged with felony kidnapping in Provo’s 4th District in connection with their 200-mile, pre-wedding antic, said the conversation with her dad was a less-than-fulfilling talk.
“It went OK,” she told the Deseret Morning News after the hourlong meeting with her father, Lemuel Redd. “I was disappointed, I’ll be honest. He isn’t really the same person I remember. He seems a bit brainwashed.”
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Myers’ tepid conversation with her father followed a hearing in 4th District Court during which Lemuel and Julia Redd, of Monticello, both pleaded guilty to one class A misdemeanor of custodial interference.
The pleas were part of a deal with prosecutors. The couple had originally faced felony kidnapping charges.
“(Lemuel) wants his family to heal and believes that today this is the best way to accomplish it,” said Jere Reneer, attorney for Lemuel Redd.
“From the beginning, we’ve expressed apology and are sincerely sorry for our conduct and what happened,” Lemuel Redd said after the hearing. “We just hope that things can heal now. We want Julianna to know we are sorry and we take responsibility.”
For her part, Myers said she thinks her father understands the mistake he and her mother made last August when they drove her against her wishes to a hotel in Grand Junction rather than to a wedding dinner in her honor.
Despite that acknowledgement, Myers is concerned that her parents still harbor negative opinions about her now-husband Perry Myers.
“As far as the healing … it will take time to see how sincere they are,” she said. “(That means) them stopping the rumors they spread about Perry and the lies they’re telling.”
Some of those include the idea that Perry Myers won’t let his wife wear makeup. Or that he forces her to do things his way. Julianna Myers said Perry may be strong-willed, but has never hurt her or forced her to do anything against her will.
In court Wednesday, Julianna Myers spoke briefly to the judge to express her concern about how long it has taken to resolve the case, as well as her desire for a three-year probation period for her parents. The judge granted that request.
Judge James Taylor also imposed a $2,000 restitution fee to be paid to Perry Myers for the missed wedding dinner. Rather than jail time or community service, Taylor said he wanted the Redds to focus on a mental-health review for Julia Redd and marriage counseling.
“This is a tragedy, and it clearly involves, in my view, mental illness,” Taylor said. “Mr. Redd, Mrs. Redd, you have done things that are not rational. I hope you have figured out you cannot have a family structure with adult children unless you’re willing to accept and appreciate their choices. To not accept their choices will do nothing but drive them away. If you haven’t already discovered that, you certainly will now.”
Neither Lemuel Redd nor Julia Redd has seen their newest granddaughter, 7-month-old Eyla Myers, although new mom Julianna Myers said she sent pictures to her sisters.
Julianna and Perry Myers also said they don’t tell anyone where they live and they use a post-office box because they don’t want Julia Redd to find them, Julianna Myers told Taylor.
Reese Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a friend of the Redds, has been working with them since the case began. He said he disagrees with the judge’s statement about the Redds’ mental health.
Instead, he described Julia Redd as a strong, truthful woman — characteristics that may not sit well with everyone.
“She has a good heart, but sometimes her human relations are a bit stiff,” Thomas said. “There are some people (in town) who don’t like her and there are some who love her. She is honest with her feelings but they aren’t always right.”
And concerning Perry, Thomas said he doesn’t see the Redds as bitter or angry.
“I think what they care about now is how can (they) welcome him into the family. I don’t think they have animosity,” Thomas said. “I think it’s a big question mark.”
Julianna and Perry Myers spent Thanksgiving with Perry’s family — but there have been no arrangements made to gather with the Redds for Christmas, nor has any meeting been planned between Julianna Myers and Julia Redd.
After the hearing, Julia Redd’s voice shook as she expressed gratitude for closure of the case.
“It never occurred to us that it was breaking the law,” she said, breaking down in tears. “She lived in our home, we paid for her school, books, phone. She was 20 years old. We were concerned about a good choice. … We just want them to be happy. And we will just go on and be happy now.”
Even Lemuel Redd, a cattle rancher, became emotional as he talked about the future of his family.
“I hope that there can be a greater respect and communication between children and parents,” Lemuel Redd said. “That we can respect one another’s views and ideas and express love even more than we have.”