A new video released Tuesday shows a California woman and mother of two, who was found bound and restrained on the side of the road last Thanksgiving, unshackled and running toward safety just minutes earlier, potentially poking more holes in a kidnapping story that officials say has a number of inconsistencies.
The new footage shows Sherri Papini, 34, jogging, apparently free, toward Interstate 5 at about 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 2016, according to the the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.
But Papini had been missing for 22 days when she was found on a ramp on Interstate 5 by a passing motorist, beaten, bruised, and “bound with chains,” according to multiple reports at the time.
Papini disappeared on Nov. 2, 2016, while jogging near her home in Redding, Calif., roughly 150 miles north of where she was found. She has claimed that two Hispanic women abducted her at gunpoint, and that they bound her, beat her, held her captive and starved her before eventually dumping her on the side of the highway.
But the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office said her claims don’t add up to a consistent narrative.
Authorities have found that Papini actually had male DNA — determined not to be from her husband Keith — on her clothes when she was picked up by the police, even though she said two women abducted her. A woman’s DNA was also found on her body.
Papini also told police that at one point she fought back against one of her captors and cut her foot, but authorities said they found no evidence supporting that claim.
“When she was being processed at the hospital … no evidence of a cut was seen in the photographs,” Sgt. Brian Jackson told Redding’s Record Searchlight newspaper.
Jackson said police investigated Papini’s alleged relationship with a “male acquaintance from Michigan,” thinking it might be related to the case. According to police, the man was in California on business a few days before Papini’s disappearance, and she had planned to meet him. However, police eventually concluded the man had nothing to do with the case.
According to the Record Searchlight, Jackson said authorities examined other cases involving abductions and human trafficking that some news outlets had compared to Papini’s disappearance, but nothing like Papini’s case turned up.
“There have been no cases discovered that are similar in nature to this investigation concerning the pattern of operations by the suspect[s], treatment of the captured victim and release of the captured victim,” Jackson said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.