Sherri Papini Case, 4 Years Later: A Look Back at a Calif. Mother's Bizarre Disappearance

On Nov. 2, 2016, a California woman disappeared while jogging — and reappeared on Thanksgiving Day with a strange story

Sherri Papini (right) and husband Keith Papini. Photo: Courtesy Keith Papini

Four years ago, on Nov. 2, 2016, California mother of two Sherri Papini disappeared without a trace while jogging near her Redding, California, home.

Twenty-two days later, on Thanksgiving morning, Papini reappeared under mysterious circumstances. A motorist spotted Papini, who was emaciated and weighed only 87 lbs., frantically waving on the side of a rural Yolo County, California, road — about 150 miles south of her home.

Papini was bound at the waist by a chain, which was tethered to her left wrist with a zip tie. Hose clamps were fixed to her ankles in what the Shasta County, California, Sheriff's Office later described as "pain compliance restraints."

Papini said she was abducted at gunpoint and held captive by two armed Hispanic females who spoke Spanish the majority of the time.

Keith Papini said his wife was covered in bruises — ranging from yellow to black — because of alleged repeated beatings. The bridge of her nose was broken and her long blond hair was chopped off.


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. Her case garnered national attention and to this day has yet to be solved.

"It's still an active and ongoing investigation," Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said of the case in November 2018, WKYC reports.


Despite releasing sketches of the two female suspects and offering a $10,000 reward for information about them, authorities have made no arrests. However, they remain hopeful.

"Something is going to reveal itself someday," Sgt. Brian Jackson, who has led the investigation from the beginning, told WKYC.

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While authorities say they have no reason not to believe Papini, details of her case caused some people to question whether she was held against her will.

Through their investigation, authorities uncovered text messages between Papini and a male acquaintance from Michigan. They determined that the pair were involved in an "online/texting relationship." 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 in October 2017. "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."

When she was found, Papini had both male and female DNA on her.

"The male DNA was compiled from the clothing Sherri was found wearing," Jackson said, adding that the female DNA sample was taken from Papini's body at the hospital.

The samples were uploaded into the CODIS DNA database in April or May, Jackson said, but there were no matches to known offenders. The DNA from Sherri's husband, Keith, was not among the two profiles, authorities said.

While recently Papini's case has been out of the spotlight, authorities have said the case is not cold.

"I wouldn't say it's cold," Jackson told WYKC two years ago. "There's still several avenues we're looking at," he added, declining to comment further on those leads.

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