Sheriff Reveals Details in Case of Sherri Papini, California Mom Found After Early November Disappearance
"Why was she taken and for what reason? That is what we are trying to determine now," Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko tells PEOPLE
New details are emerging in the case of Sherri Papini, the California mom who mysteriously vanished in early November before being found allegedly beaten but alive along a rural road on Thanksgiving Day.
Papini, a 34-year-old mother of two, was allegedly abducted as she went for a routine jog from her home in Redding on November 2. Authorities and her family searched for her for weeks before she was found in northern Yolo County, about 150 miles south of Redding.
Before she was found, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko tells PEOPLE, “She was able to walk to a nearby church but nobody was there at 4:30 in the morning, and then she walked back and was able to flag down a motorist near Interstate 5 and Yolo County Road 17.
“There the motorist stopped and of course called 911,” Bosenko says.
Bosenko says Papini was taken to a hospital in the Sacramento area and was treated for her injuries. “She was there for a number of hours receiving treatment and then released,” he says. “She was not admitted to the hospital.”
Bosenko addressed a letter that has circulated online purportedly written by Papini that expresses racially-charged views and confrontations with Latino people.
“It is pretty dated material. We don’t believe that that had any correlation or relevance to her abduction,” Bosenko says.
When asked if authorities believe Papini wrote it, Bosenko says, “We don’t know that as of yet,” adding, “That’s one of the many questions that we would like to have answered.”
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Bosenko says Sherri Papini talked to investigators and was able “to give us some limited amount of information.”
“But keep in mind too she had been abducted,” he says. “We don’t have any reason not to believe her. She was abducted held captive for three weeks and then released. Traumatized from the experience and then of course very emotional about being released and then being reunited with her husband.”
Bosenko continues, “Sometimes people who have been in a traumatic event, their mind shields them from some of the trauma so they do have limited recollection, and also if you try to push to get some of those details people can shut down and not want to re-experience or try to recall some of those bad memories. So that was what we were experiencing on Thanksgiving Day.
“So oftentimes if you give a person a little bit of time to decompress sometimes some of their memories come back to the specific details of these traumatic incidents and that was what we were trying to do [Monday] try to get much more specific details and questions answered.”
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According to Bosenko, Papini told police her captors were two adult Hispanic women, armed with a handgun, and driving a dark colored SUV. But, says Bosenko, Papini said only one of the women released her.
“We don’t know what the motive or the reason for the abduction was,” he says. “We don’t know if this was a targeted abduction or a random abduction or she was the specific target. We don’t have the reason as of yet of why she was abducted. We don’t have details on where she was being held during this period time.”
WATCH: Sherri Papini’s Husband Reveals Her Horrific Conditions After Release: Broken Nose, Hair Shaved and Weighing 87 Lbs.
Husband Passed Polygraph
Papini’s husband Keith described the brutal condition Sherri was in the first time he saw her after she was found.
“My first sight was my wife in a hospital bed. Her face covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of her repeated beatings. The bridge of her nose broken,” Keith Papini wrote in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “She has been branded and I could feel the rise of her scabs under my fingers.”
He added that when he reunited with Papini, she weighed only 87 lbs. and her long, blonde hair had been chopped off. He wrote Sherri had been thrown from a vehicle with a chain around her waist – which was also attached to her wrists – and a bag over her head.
Bosenko says Papini did sit down with investigators for a few hours on Monday and was able to provide them with additional information. “I don’t have the specifics of that interview because my detectives are still going through the content of her interview and looking that over,” he says. “I don’t know if they are going to have to have further interviews in the future with her, or of course if she remembers some details we will have to have more interviews and get that information from her.”
Monday’s interview was not conducted at their home but at a “place that was comfortable and we were able to talk to her,” Bosenko says.
Bosenko says Papini was not given a polygraph test.
“Under California law if they are victims of a crime you basically can’t ask that,” he says, adding, “But her husband Keith he did volunteer for a poly and he came in a week or so after this started going on and he came in for a poly and passed the poly.”
Why she was abducted is still a question that has not been answered. “That is the main question that we are trying to get answered,” says Bosenko. “Why was she taken and for what reason? That is what we are trying to determine now.”
“The investigation doesn’t end there,” adds Bosenko. “It is wonderful that she was discovered. She was safe and then able to be returned to her family, but here it opens up a whole new chapter in this investigation in trying to obtain many unanswered questions, identify the suspect and then get them arrested and brought to justice. It is still a very high priority case for us.”