Minutes before she was found on the side of the road early on Thanksgiving last year, missing California mom-of-two Sherri Papini ran for help at a place of worship before turning back to head to the interstate, according to authorities and newly released surveillance video.
The black-and-white footage — sent to reporters on Tuesday by Shasta County, California, investigators — shows Papini near a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Woodland, California, about 4:15 a.m. on Nov. 24, 2016.
According to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, Papini was recorded by a surveillance camera running toward the building before she turned around and ran south toward Interstate 5, where she was found by a passing motorist at an on-ramp at 4:22 a.m.
“She [Papini] was looking for help,” Shasta County sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Jackson tells PEOPLE. “She saw a building and she didn’t know what it was and went to look for help. It was 4 o’clock in the morning and there was nobody there. And she went back the other way.”
Papini had been missing for 22 days, having vanished while jogging near her home in Redding, California, about 150 miles north.
She said she’d been abducted at gunpoint and held captive for weeks by two armed Hispanic females who spoke Spanish the majority of the time. One of the women had long curly hair, Papini said, and the other, who was older, had straight black hair.
Eventually — though it remains unclear why — she was released, she said. No arrests have been made in the case.
When Papini reappeared, her body was emaciated, bruised and branded. She weighed just 87 lbs.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that detectives canvassing the area located the video surveillance of Papini the same day she was found.
Of the decision to release the video this week, Sgt. Jackson explains:
“We are just trying to spur some folks that if they do have information out there and they did see something, coupled with the fact that we have suspect sketches that are out, maybe there is that one person who can have that one piece of information that can help.”
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Papini’s disappearance sparked a massive manhunt and a $50,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts — as well as many theories about what happened to the now 35-year-old.
When she was discovered again, Papini was bound at the waist by a chain to which her left wrist was also tethered with a zip tie. Hose clamps were fixed to each of her ankles — though not binding them together — in what the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office later described as “pain compliance restraints.”
Papini’s husband, Keith, said she was covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings. The bridge of her nose was broken and her long blonde hair was chopped off. She’d been branded on the back of her right shoulder.
The strange turn of events baffled law enforcement and transfixed armchair crime-watchers who accused Papini of fabricating the abduction. But authorities have repeatedly maintained they have no reason to disbelieve her account.
One year later, the case still remains unsolved, even though investigators have received more than 600 tips and served more than 20 search warrants.
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Last month, as the one-year anniversary approached of Papini vanishing, investigators released several previously undisclosed details about what they have learned while probing her disappearance and searching for those responsible.
In a statement following those developments, Papini’s husband said, “We want to express our immense gratitude to all of the many people who have publicly and privately supported us over the last year. Your well-wishes have helped beyond measure.
“We are hopeful that the release of additional information by law enforcement will expedite the capture of Sherri’s abductors.”
“This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for our entire family,” he continued. “We ask that the media please respect our need for privacy as Sherri continues to heal and we work towards putting our lives back together.”