A California mom of two who claimed she was abducted by two Hispanic women four years ago after she went missing for 22 days has said she still hopes for a breakthrough in her case.
Sherri Papini, described by her family as a ‘supermom’, went missing while out jogging in November 2016 and was not seen again for more than three weeks.
The 38-year-old was found alive by the side of a road 150 miles from her home, bound and bloodied with her long blonde hair hacked off and a brand seared into her skin.
Skepticism surrounded her story as reports emerged of her having being in contact with another man before her disappearance and police still don’t know who abducted her.
Yet Papini – who has lived a reclusive life with her husband, son and daughter since her return – maintains her story and says she hopes those responsible for her abduction are caught.
Her new comments come after a mystery tipster reportedly contacted the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office to claim that Papini was with him the whole time she was missing.
A law enforcement source told the New York Post that the man had called them a few months ago.
‘He said, basically, that it was a hoax’, the source reportedly said.
Sherri Papini, 38, went missing while out jogging in November 2016 and was found more than three weeks later bound and bloodied by the side of the road claiming she was abducted
Papini and her husband Keith, pictured, made their first statement in years in which they said they hoped that those responsible for her alleged abduction four years ago would be found
Papini claims that two Hispanic women driving an SUV abducted her but covered their faces. These sketches were released of them almost a year after she went missing
In the family’s first statement in years, publicist Chris Thomas told the Post that Papini and her husband Keith still hope for a resolution in the case.
‘Sherri and Keith continue to follow the investigation while they focus on their family,’ Thomas said.
‘They remain hopeful there will be a break in the case at some point and those responsible will be brought to justice.’
Yet the tipster from southern California recently claimed that Papini’s whole story is a ‘hoax’ and that she spent the 22 days with him rather than the Hispanic women she claims abducted her, according to the Post.
The source said that investigators do not want to say either way whether Papini’s story is true or if it was all an elaborate ruse. They have previously said they do not have a reason not to believe her story.
‘They could be putting it on the back burner because they don’t have the pressure to solve it,’ the source said.
The case is being spearheaded by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office with aide from the FBI, but their only comment on the case is that they don’t believe the public to be at risk from Papini’s kidnappers.
‘The case is pretty unique, so it calls for unique handling of it,’ Sgt. Kyle Wallace told the Post, while refusing to comment further on why they believed the general public to be safe.
A retired NYPD detective claims that this may be because cops believe Papini knew the people who abducted her.
‘Generally when law enforcement doesn’t say there’s a public threat, they genuinely believe the person actually knows the perpetrator,’ former Sgt. Joseph Giacalone said.
‘The role of the police is to keep the public safe. If they believed it was some stranger that abducted her, they would be citing that over and over again.’
Picture of Keith and Sherri Papini on their wedding day in August 2012. Keith Papini launched a massive fundraising campaign to find his wife that raised almost $50,000
He also suggested that female kidnappers are ‘very unusual’ and that the lack of motive is perplexing.
‘When you’re going to kidnap someone, you’ve got a reason for it, whether it’s money, revenge or to get back at somebody,’ Giacalone said.
‘I don’t think they could find anything in the United States where that happened to someone.’
‘Generally when kidnappings go on that long, they don’t end as well as this one did,’ he added.
Papini’s family also don’t wish to comment further.
‘I don’t like to bring the case back up,’ her aunt Darlene Brown told the Post. ‘The family is doing fine.’
The mother-of-two, dubbed a ‘supermom’ by her sister Sheila Koester during the massive police search, disappeared while out jogging on November 2, 2016.
On the day she went missing, her husband Keith said he had first become concerned about her whereabouts when she stopped answering her phone.
The area where Sherri Papini was found near the I-5 freeway outside of Yolo, California
Pictured: Papini and Keith in their wedding photo. A man that she had been texting in the lead up to her disappearance was cleared as a suspect days after she went missing
When he discovered she hadn’t picked the kids up from daycare, he flew into full blown panic.
‘I couldn’t find her, so I called the day care to see what time she picked up the kids. The kids were never picked up so I got freaked out, I hit the Find My iPhone app thing,’ he said. ‘I found her phone; it’s got like hair ripped out of it, like, in the headphones.’
Her phone was discovered a mile away at the intersection of Sunrise Drive and Old Oregon Highway – neatly placed on the ground and with the headphones tidily wrapped around it.
Keith, who said at the time that his wife would never leave him or their children voluntarily, also launched an appeal – a GoFundMe account raising cash to pay for the search which eventually raised close to $50,000.
Papini was eventually found 150 miles away in the 452-person town of Yolo, which is approximately 15 miles north of Sacramento, early on the morning of November 24.
According to police, she was found on a rural road just off the I-5 freeway and, despite being chained, had managed to flag down a passing car.
Her long hair had been hacked off and Sheriff Bosenko said she had also been beaten and branded by her alleged captors.
Papini, now 38, has lived a reclusive live since her disappearance and is rarely seen out
‘Sherri appeared battered and bruised, her hair had been cut to shoulder length and she had a brand on her right shoulder,’ the sheriff’s office said. ‘Sherri, however, stated she had not been sexually assaulted, and there is no physical evidence to indicate otherwise.’
She was also branded with a threatening message.
‘The Sheriff’s Office continues to examine the brand and its possible meaning, but details of the brand remain confidential as part of the on-going investigation,’ police said at the time.
In a subsequent interview with police, Papini said she had been taken by two Hispanic women who went to great lengths to conceal their faces.
Sherri Papini now remains at home with her husband Keith and son and daughter
Sketches of Papini’s alleged kidnappers were released in October 2017, 11 months after the alleged kidnapping, with one described as being aged between 20 and 30 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall and with curly dark hair, thin eyebrows and pierced ears.
The second woman is between 40 and 50 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with long, straight black hair with some gray in it, thick eyebrows and pierced ears.
Papini said the women had been driving a dark-colored SUV with ‘a large rear side window’ at the time of the kidnapping but has been unable to give details of the make and model.
However, police also revealed that male DNA that did not belong to husband Keith was found on her clothing when she was discovered and said she had been texting another man before her disappearance.
Cops investigating the kidnapping had discovered Papini’s texts and tracked down the man in Detroit, Michigan on November 9 – a week after she disappeared.
The man was ruled out as a suspect in her disappearance and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department refused to give further details of the two-day trip.
Further skepticism about why she disappeared emerged after it was revealed she had previously run away as a teenager.
And according to the Sacramento Bee, uncovered documents from 13 years ago outlined how Papini’s mother, Loretta Graeff, called police asking for help after her daughter was allegedly self-harming and trying to blame the wounds on her.
The incident report, filed in December 2003, is just two lines long and reads: ‘RP states her 21y/o daughter that was living with her was harming herself and blaming it on the RP.
‘RP states female is coming back to live with them and she wants advice.’
The newspaper also found two other incidents involving Papini, where her father and sister both claimed she damaged their property.
In 2000, Richard Graeff said his daughter ‘burglarized his residence,’ before Sheila Koester, ‘alleged her back door had been kicked in and she believed Papini was the suspect’, the Bee reported.
Since her return, Papini has been living a quiet existence at her family home which occupies a shady plot of land on the outskirts of Shasta Lake; a small town of 10,000 people in Northern California.
Neighbors revealed that Papini is now only seen outside infrequently and ‘mostly stays home’.