The husband of a Northern California woman who disappeared while jogging on November 2, then was found alive on Thanksgiving day has gone on the offensive against those suggesting that his wife's alleged abduction was some sort of hoax.
As previously reported, 34-year-old mother of two Sheri Papini disappeared during an early morning jog around her neighborhood of Mountain Gate, California. Using Find My iPhone, her husband, Keith, says he found her phone and headphones about a mile from their home, sparking an intensive search for the woman as well as a $50,000 reward for her return.
According to the Associated Press, Papini "turned up on the side of a California interstate before dawn on Thanksgiving, badly beaten and chained to a 'heavy object,'" and told police that her captors were "two Hispanic women armed with a handgun and driving a dark-colored SUV."
During an appearance on Good Morning America, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said that they had "no reason to disbelieve the woman’s story," the AP reports, but also notes that before Papini was found, "police had filed at least 20 search warrants in court linked to the investigation...investigators were also looking through her computer records, probing past relationships and seeking surveillance footage that could offer clues."
In the post-Gone Girl era in which we live, the tale of Papini's return has inspired a significant amount of speculation. For example, from our report on her return:
Though neither Sheri nor Keith have spoken publicly about her ordeal, it appears that responses similar to that one struck a nerve, with Keith sending a statement to Good Morning America excoriating those who appear to doubt Sheri's story.
"Rumors, assumptions, lies, and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting," Keith wrote, saying that "some people have been sitting in angering, expectant, positions waiting for the gory details," but that "those people should be ashamed of their malicious, sub human behavior."
He then goes on to provide his initial thoughts when Sheri was recovered, saying that his wife's "signature long, blonde hair had been chopped off." When he first saw her, he writes, "My reaction was one of extreme happiness and overwhelming nausea as my eyes and hands scanned her body. I was filled with so much relief and revulsion at once."
According to Bosenko, police are working through hundreds of tips that might lead them to Sheri's captors, and "investigators have sensitive information that hasn’t been discussed publicly because the incident is still a critical active investigation."
Here's Keith Papini’s full statement:
The first thing I would like to address is the overwhelming amount of gratitude our entire family has for the thousands of people that have been on this torturous journey with us. I cannot possibly name each and every person, although their names are eternally etched in our hearts. Thank you to our strong family, devoted friends, the entire Redding community, and countless communities around the world. Specific thanks to the Shasta County Sheriff”s department, FBI, NorCal Alliance for the Missing, The Lost Coast Trackers, Shasta Support Services, The Guardian Angels, my own personal A-Team, Cameron Gamble, Cody Salfen, Jim Linnan, Sean Ditty, Don Armstrong, Yolo County Sheriff’s department and hospital, the medical personnel that helped our dear Sherri, social media, and many news outlets. Thank you to LRT Graphics and Signarama. Thank you to the extremely generous, anonymous as well as named donors all over the world whom selflessly gave to our family. Thank you to the many incredible humans that have never known Sherri that facilitated in sharing our heart break across the globe. Sherri has always captured my heart and it is no surprise that she has captured the hearts not only through the country, but throughout the world. Thank you, truly, immensely, sincerely, and with my entire heart.
Secondly, we live in a nation of free speech, accompanied with an era of technology that provides immediate gratification. This is a double edged sword. I am grateful for this system as it is what spread my wife’s face quickly throughout the world, gaining the attention of thousands. The unfortunate side is that some people have been sitting in angering, expectant, positions waiting for the gory details.
Rumors, assumptions, lies, and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting. Those people should be ashamed of their malicious, sub human behavior. We are not going to allow those people to take away our spirit, love, or rejoice in our girl found alive and home where she belongs. I understand people want the story, pictures, proof that this was not some sort of hoax, plan to gain money, or some fabricated race war. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie. Instead, may I give you a glimpse of the mixture of horror and elation that was my experience of reuniting with the love of my life and mother of our children.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see upon my arrival at the hospital, nor the details of the true hell I was about to hear. The mental prison I was in over the past three weeks was shattered when my questions of my wife’s reality became known.
The officers warned me to brace myself. My first sight was my wife in a hospital bed, her face covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings, the bridge of her nose broken.
Her now emaciated body of 87 pounds was covered in multi colored bruises, severe burns, red rashes, and chain markings. Her signature long, blonde hair had been chopped off. She has been branded and I could feel the rise of her scabs under my fingers. She was thrown from a vehicle with a chain around her waist, attached to her wrists and a bag over her head. The same bag she used to flag someone down once she was able to free one of her hands. Sherri was taken from us for 22 days, and suffered incredibly through both intense physical agony and severe mental torture. My reaction was one of extreme happiness and overwhelming nausea as my eyes and hands scanned her body. I was filled with so much relief and revulsion at once. My Sherri suffered tremendously and all the visions swirling in your heads of her appearance, I assure you, are not as graphic and gruesome as the reality.
We are a very private family whom do not use social media outlets prior to this grotesque tragedy. My love for my wife took precedents and it was clear we had to be exposed in ways we never would have been comfortable with. So please have a heart and understand why we have asked for our privacy. This will be along road of healing for everyone. Ultimately, it was Sherri’s will to survive that brought her home. Thank you.