Calif. Mom's Family Previously Reported Her to Police — But That Doesn't Prove Alleged Abduction Was a Hoax: Officials
California mom Sherri Papini, who vanished last year, was previously reported to law enforcement by her family, according to newly released documents
Sherri Papini — the California mom who mysteriously vanished in November before reappearing weeks later, after an alleged abduction by two Hispanic women — was previously suspected of various misdeeds by her immediate family, according to newly released documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Papini’s relatives made multiple calls to law enforcement about her between 2000 and 2003, according to incident reports from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in California.
However, authorities say the years-old cases don’t “have anything to do” with the ongoing investigation into Papini’s disappearance and none of them resulted in charges or arrests. Papini’s family rebuked the new reporting as “shameful,” in a statement to ABC News.
Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko has told PEOPLE that investigators have no reason “not to believe” Papini’s account of how she went missing. No arrests have been made in her alleged abduction, and no motive has been confirmed.
The newly released incident reports, which were first published by the Sacramento Bee on Thursday, shed some light on Papini’s previous behavior and relationships with her family.
For example, in December 2003, her mother, Loretta Graeff, alleged to authorities that the then-21-year-old Papini was “harming herself and blaming the injuries on [her],” according to a copy of the incident report.
Graeff was seeking advice on how to handle the situation, Shasta County sheriff’s Lt. Pat Kropholler tells PEOPLE.
In another incident in 2000, Papini’s father alleged she had vandalized his home; in another call in 2000, her sister said she suspected Papini kicked in her back door while allegedly trying to break in.
Lt. Kropholler says the first incident report was cleared as a vandalism, although Papini’s father reported a burglary. In the second report, Kropholler says nothing appeared to actually be missing from the residence, according to the sister.
Papini’s father called the sheriff’s office again in 2003 to claim that Papini had made an unauthorized withdrawal of money from his checking account.
Kropholler says it may have been a mistake or a misunderstanding, however, because of a mix-up between cards — and that the funds were returned.
Investigators were aware of these previous law enforcement calls during their work on Papini’s disappearance, Kropholler says.
“This really doesn’t have any bearing on her case,” he says, adding, “There is no evidence here that shows this is a hoax or this didn’t occur.”
Multiple calls to Papini’s family on Thursday were not returned. In their statement, the family said, “Sherri Papini and her family are the very recent victims of an extremely violent crime that has painfully and dramatically changed the course of their lives forever.
“It is shameful that a media outlet [the Sacramento Bee] would intentionally exploit Sherri and Keith Papini and their young children’s trauma for the sole purpose of clickbait and selling papers.”
The family asked for privacy (they have not spoken publicly in 2017).
“This newspaper’s decision to aggressively seek out and publish unsubstantiated online activity and distort phone conversations from 16 years ago is victim-blaming at its most egregious,” their statement continued. “It is our hope that the media will honor their privacy as they work through this difficult time.”
Papini’s disappearance in the fall sparked national headlines, as her husband pleaded for assistance in finding her. She has told investigators she was snatched at gunpoint during a morning jog on Nov. 2 near her home in Redding, California, by two Hispanic women.
She described one of the women as having long curly hair, thin eyebrows and pierced ears; and the other as older, with straight black hair and gray and thick eyebrows. Both women allegedly spoke Spanish the majority of the time, Papini said.
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Her husband, Keith, said in a previous statement to PEOPLE that during her 22 days of alleged captivity, Sherri was beaten and branded — her nose broken and her long blonde hair chopped off.
He said that “rumors, assumptions, lies and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting.”
Sherri was found early Thanksgiving morning on a roadside about 150 miles from her home, looking “panicked and frightened,” according to a 911 caller.
“Anyone who knows Sherri knows she is a sweetheart and wouldn’t say a mean thing to anyone,” a family friend told PEOPLE in December. “So if that kind of person was taken, then it could happen to anybody in your community. And that definitely shook the community to want to find her and puts everyone on high alert.”
“I wouldn’t judge this case without having all the facts, and obviously it is an ongoing investigation and we can’t release everything,” Lt. Kropholler tells PEOPLE after the release of the previous incident reports. “I am hoping some day we come to a successful resolution.”
The incident reports are not the first claims made about Sherri’s character: In 2003, someone using her maiden name and claiming to be from her hometown wrote a bizarre and racist post on a white supremacist website detailing how they got into physical fights with Latinos during high school.
Investigators said the post was “being looked into,” but Sherri’s father told PEOPLE in December that she didn’t write it and that it was the work of “some punks.”
One of her friends seconded that, saying, “It was not her; it is not who she is.”