In early November, California mother Sherri Papini mysteriously vanished after she left her Redding, California, home for a routine jog.
She wasn’t seen until Thanksgiving morning, when the 34-year-old was found 150 miles south of her home, badly beaten and bruised, her hair shaved off and her body branded, her husband, Keith, said in a statement to PEOPLE.
As authorities continue to search for her alleged captors, who Papini said were two armed Hispanic women, here are five things to know about Sherri and her family:
1. Sherri Met Husband Keith in Middle School
“It all started with a first kiss in middle school,” Sherri wrote on the blog for her 2009 wedding.
“He was in seventh grade, I was in eighth. I never imagined my middle school first kiss would turn out to be my husband!”
As Keith told PEOPLE: “She was my first kiss in 7th grade,” adding, “You never forget your very first kiss.”
Sherri moved away and lost touch with Keith for several years, she writes on the blog.
During that time she got married in 2006 to David Dreyfus, a platoon sergeant with the armed forces, according to the couple’s marriage certificate obtained by PEOPLE. The pair divorced in September, 2008, according to the Shasta County court.
After Sherri moved back to the Redding area, she ran into Keith and the pair arranged a date.
“By our third date we were head over heals [sic] in love and have spent everyday together since,” she writes. “I have never been so happy. We always laugh and always smile. We enjoy each others company and make a great team! We’re best friends and a perfect couple.”
“I guess God had a plan in the works years and years ago,” Keith told PEOPLE. “It kind of came together and it ended up being a very cool story.”
2. The Papinis Have Two Young Children
Keith told PEOPLE he became worried about Sherri when he arrived home from his job at Best Buy the night of Nov. 2 to find neither his wife nor their two children, who Sherri usually picked up from child care.
“My wife is a very involved mother,” Keith told PEOPLE. “She is always doing stuff.”
When Keith found the house empty, he thought the family could be outside. “They go on these nature hikes and pick up pine cones and acorns and she makes a scrapbook with the kids,” Keith said.
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During Sherri’s absence, the kids were “doing great,” he told PEOPLE. “We have had huge family support. They are very young. We obviously haven’t said anything to them yet.”
He added: “They are being entertained and sidetracked from what is really going on.”
3. She is Athletic
Sherri went missing during a late-morning jog. Keith told PEOPLE Sherri used the mile-long dirt road near their home to the mailbox as a jogging trail, for a 2-mile round-trip jaunt.
At the time of her disappearance, Sherri was training for the Casa Superhero Run in Redding, a 5-kilometer race to benefit abused and neglected children, with participants dressing up in superhero costumes. “Our whole family was going to dress up and run in it,” Keith told PEOPLE.
“She has always been athletic,” he said.
4. They Live in a Rural area Where Violent Crime Had Been Soaring
The Papinis live in a rural area of northern California with barely any cell phone reception off the main road, Keith told PEOPLE.
When Keith tried to call or text Sherri the day she went missing and he tried to ping her phone, he had to get near the main road about a mile away near their mailbox before he had enough reception, he told PEOPLE.
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Keith told PEOPLE he successfully used the Find my iPhone application to locate Sherri’s cell phone and earbuds about a mile from their home, near the intersection of Old Oregon Trail and Sunrise Drive. The earbuds reportedly had strands of Sherri’s hair on them.
In a 2014 article in Time, Redding was named as one of the country’s top 10 cities where violent crime is soaring.
According to the article, some area residents believe that the area’s high crime rates may be related to marijuana cultivation.
5. Sherri Was Getting Ready for Christmas Before the Abduction
“She was just here, she was setting up Christmas,” Keith told PEOPLE. “My son, my whole family are into the whole Christmas thing.”
The day after Halloween, Sherri brought out boxes of Christmas decorations. “We were in transition from putting all the Halloween stuff away,” Keith said.
According to Keith, their daughter and son have a little Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Their son puts his toys in a sack and makes believe he is Santa, “and he gives us presents,” Keith told PEOPLE.
On Nov. 2, when Keith was searching his home looking for Sherri, he told PEOPLE he found a partially wrapped present addressed to him from his wife and two kids.
“She must have been wrapping her presents,” he said. “It is like an American flag pillow that she more than likely made. It wasn’t here when I left, so I know that she must have been working on that.”