“The Sherri Papini kidnapping case remains an open and active investigation with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office,” Captain Pat Kropholler tells PEOPLE

By Christine Pelisek
December 24, 2019 10:15 AM
Advertisement
Credit: Facebook

It’s been more than three years since California mom Sherri Papini was found emaciated, battered and bound at the waist by a chain on Thanksgiving day on the side of a rural Yolo County road — about 150 miles south of her home.

Papini, now 37, told police she had been abducted at gunpoint while jogging near her Mountain Gate home. She said she’d been held captive by two armed Hispanic females who spoke Spanish the majority of the time.

Her husband Keith said she endured extensive abuse — her body branded and starved, her nose broken and her long blonde hair cut off.

However, despite her account, police were unable to determine what led to Papini’s abduction, where she was taken for those 22 days and why she was kidnapped and released without an explanation.

And to this day, nobody has ever been arrested or charged in the case.

“The Sherri Papini kidnapping case remains an open and active investigation with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office,” Captain Pat Kropholler tells PEOPLE. “The FBI continues to assist the Sheriff’s Office in the investigation as it is both agencies’ goal to determine who is responsible for Sherri’s abduction.”

There is still a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the suspects, Kropholler says.

Papini, described by her husband Keith as a “supermom,” disappeared around 2 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2016. Her family said they immediately feared foul play because she failed to pick up her young daughter and son from daycare.

FBI is looking for information leading to arrest of suspects in the case
| Credit: FBI

Keith told Good Morning America after her disappearance that “she could drop her phone, but she would never in a million years not pick up our children [at] the time that she normally would have.”

A massive manhunt ensued and search teams scoured the area for weeks. The family offered a $50,000 reward to anyone with information leading to Papini’s whereabouts. A GoFundMe page raised more than $40,000 to help in search efforts.

Then, in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving day, a passing motorist discovered Papini on the side of the rural Yolo County road. Papini was bound at the waist by a chain, to which her left wrist was tethered with a zip tie. Hose clamps were fixed to her ankles.

Papini told police that she had been abducted by two Hispanic women. She described one of her abductors as having long curly hair, thin eyebrows and pierced ears; and the other as older, with straight black hair and gray and thick eyebrows.

Sherri Papini and her husband Keith
| Credit: Courtesy Keith Papini

The strange turn of events baffled police and transfixed armchair crime-watchers who accused Papini of fabricating the abduction. But police have said they have no reason to doubt her account.

Police later announced that they found both male and female DNA on Papini.

“The male DNA was compiled from the clothing Sherri was found wearing,” Sgt. Brian Jackson previously told PEOPLE, adding that the female DNA sample was taken from Papini’s body at the hospital.

The samples were uploaded into the CODIS DNA database but there were no matches to known offenders.

Through their investigation, authorities also uncovered text messages between Papini and a male acquaintance from Michigan. They determined that the pair were involved in an “online/texting relationship” but it was unclear whether that relationship was romantic or not.

“The text messages went back several months to days before her disappearance,” Jackson told PEOPLE. “It was a prior contact that she had years before. Somebody she met and kept in contact with. A male acquaintance she was talking with through texting.”

Anyone with information about the case can contact the FBI at 916-746-7000 (select option 1), online at tips.fbi.gov or your local FBI office.