The mysterious abduction of California mom Sherri Papini remains unsolved

By Christine Pelisek
November 24, 2017 10:02 AM

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Nov. 1, 2017.

On Nov. 2, 2016, Sherri Papini vanished without a trace while jogging near her Redding, California, home. 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 mother of two.

Papini reappeared 22 days later, on Thanksgiving morning, under mysterious circumstances. A motorist spotted Papini, who was emaciated and weighed only 87 lbs., frantically waving on the side a rural Yolo County, California, road — about 150 miles south of her home.

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 in what the Shasta County, California, Sheriff’s Office later described as “pain compliance restraints.”

Papini’s husband, Keith, said his wife was covered in bruises — ranging from yellow to black — because of repeated beatings. The bridge of her nose was broken and her long blond hair was chopped off. She was branded on the back of her right shoulder.

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

Credit: FBI

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

One year later, the case still remains unsolved, event though law enforcement has received more than 600 tips and served more than 20 search warrants.

Police say they still don’t know what led to her abduction, where she was taken for those 22 days and why she was kidnapped and released without an explanation.

“What was the purpose?” Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brian Jackson tells PEOPLE. “Why was she released? It is hard to keep somebody in captivity for 22 days. Why would somebody go to that length? Those are all types of questions we all have.”

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Credit: ABC

In late October, authorities released sketches of the two female suspects and offered a $10,000 reward for information about them. But no arrests have been made.

“The police have a very tough job on this case,” Joe Giacalone, a retired New York Police Department sergeant and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice tells PEOPLE.

“There might never be any closure,” Giacalone says. “The police are stuck with a case right now that looks unsolvable.”