The 34-year-old mother of two told authorities she was abducted by two Hispanic women while out for a jog. Her husband said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE that after she was found on the side of the road, Papini weighed a mere 87 lbs., had suffered a broken nose and her hair was “chopped.”
Now, the Redding, California, mom is in the news again this week in the wake of revelations that she was previously suspected of misdeeds by her immediate family, according to police documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Authorities say the old cases have nothing to do with their active investigation into Papini’s alleged abduction.
Here is a guide to understanding the still-unsolved case.
Papini Vanishes — Leaving Few Leads
Papini was quickly catapulted into the national media spotlight by her family’s insistence that her Nov. 2 disappearance was an abduction. Her husband, Keith, gave frequent media interviews seeking assistance in the case.
Keith said she vanished at some point that November day, and he found her phone with earbuds still attached and strands of blonde hair near a local jogging trail.
“She is my wife, and I know everything about her,” Keith told PEOPLE a little over a week after her disappearance. “I know that my wife would never leave me and never in a million years leave our kids.”
Neighbors had seen Sherri running around 11 a.m., but there were no other witnesses.
A week after Sherri vanished, Keith volunteered to take a polygraph test, which he passed. Investigators have confirmed where Keith was the day Sherri disappeared and said there is no physical evidence to suggest his involvement. They have also said they have no reason not to believe Sherri’s account of how she went missing.
Keith said in a statement to PEOPLE after Sherri’s return that “rumors, assumptions, lies and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting.”
How Sherri Returned
Around 4:30 on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 24, a motorist spotted a woman frantically waving on the side of the road.
It was Sherri — who had then been missing for 22 days. She was 150 miles from home. She had been thrown from a vehicle with a chain around her waist, which was also attached to her wrists, and a bag was over her head, her husband said in a statement to PEOPLE.
Sherri’s long blonde hair had been cut off and her nose broken, Keith said. She was branded and covered in bruises and had “suffered incredibly through both intense physical agony and severe mental torture.”
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“When lights are off, when doors shut, when [Sherri] hears certain sounds, I mean it’s something that I don’t know how to deal with, and we’ll need somebody who can help her through that from a professional standpoint,” Keith also told ABC News.
Sherri has not publicly described her ordeal.
A Strange Online 2003 Post in Sherri’s Name?
Online sleuths discovered a bizarre, racist post from 2003 on the now-defunct website Skinheadz.com under Sherri’s maiden name, Sherri Graeff. It described attacks by Latinos in her hometown of Shasta Lake, California, and that the poster had gotten into fights because they were “drug-free, white and proud” of their “blood and heritage.”
Family and friends told PEOPLE the post was not written by Sherri.
“Sherri did not write that letter. Some punks wrote the letter,” said her father, Richard Graeff.
What Law Enforcement Says They Know
Sherri told police she was abducted at gunpoint and held captive by two armed Hispanic females: She said one had long curly hair, thin eyebrows and pierced ears; the other woman, who was older, had straight black hair with gray and thick eyebrows.
Both allegedly spoke in Spanish the majority of the time, Sherri said.
The alleged abductors used a dark-colored SUV. They sometimes covered Papini’s face and concealed their faces.
“There is a lot still unknown about her assailants,” Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said shortly after Sherri’s return.
Bosenko confirmed that Sherri was branded, but he would not provide any details about what the brand looked like or where it was placed on her body.
What Law Enforcement Hasn’t Said
Since a Nov. 30 news conference, investigators have not provided any new information in the case, which they say is ongoing. They have not revealed a motive, and no arrests have been made.
Bosenko told PEOPLE authorities have no reason “not to believe” Sherri.
On Thursday, PEOPLE obtained police documents showing that between 2000 and 2003, Sherri’s family had previously reported her to police. This included an allegation by her mother that Sherri was harming herself and blaming her mom.
However, officials stressed to PEOPLE that the cases are not evidence that Sherri’s alleged abduction was a hoax.
A family spokesperson also rebuked the new reporting in The Sacramento Bee, which first obtained the documents, as “shameful.”
• With reporting by CHRISTINE PELISEK