Though her family has already called this "victim blaming at its most egregious," the Sacramento Bee has just published a story following up on the ongoing investigation into the November disappearance of 34-year-old Sherri Papini. Papini's story made national headlines after she was allegedly kidnapped while jogging in the area of Redding, California, only to be found by the side of a road 22 days later, bruised, branded, and with her blonde hair cut off. According to the Bee, Papini had had brushes with law enforcement as a young woman, which they learn of via records of police calls dating back to 2000 records that are the only pieces of evidence in the case publicly released so far by Shasta County detectives.
Back in 2000, when Papini was 18 years old, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Papini's father, Richard Graeff, who claimed that his daughter had burglarized his residence. The same year, Sheila Koester, Papini's sister, called the cops on her saying that her back door had been kicked in and she suspected Papini was the culprit, according to the Bee. Three years later, in 2003, her father would allege that Papini had made unauthorized withdrawals from his checking account, and her mother, Loretta Graeff, would file an incident report with the Sheriff's Office saying she believed her daughter was harming herself and trying to blame the injuries on her.
These of course could all just be the indiscretions of a rebellious youth, though the latter accusation is fair bit more troubling given the nature of the 2016 case.
ABC News reports via Shasta County Sheriff's Office Lt. Pat Kropholler that no charges were ever filed against Papini in any of the above situations, and her family only "made the calls to ask questions and seek advice from law enforcement."
Papini family spokesperson Nicole Wool gave a statement to ABC News expressing their disgust with the Sacramento Bee for publishing these reports:
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 would intentionally exploit Sherri and Keith Papini and their young children's trauma for the sole purpose of clickbait and selling papers. 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. It is our hope that the media will honor their privacy as they work through this difficult time.
When she was returned to her husband and two children last November 24, after being missing for three weeks, Papini described being abducted by two Hispanic women and being tortured and beaten during her captivity. Her husband Keith Papini described first seeing her in her hospital bed "emaciated" and "covered in multi colored bruises, severe burns, red rashes, and chain markings." He also said she had been branded, and when she was released by her captors she was "thrown from a vehicle with a chain around her waist, attached to her wrists and a bag over her head." An investigator later revealed that the branding contained "a message."
Papini, however, has not appeared publicly since the ordeal, and no motive for the kidnapping was ever revealed. The outlandish story, much like the one in the film Gone Girl and the kidnapping of Denise Huskins in Vallejo which turned out not to be a hoax at all despite initial suspicions has been widely speculated about in the media. Shasta County authorities have never said they had any reason to doubt Papini's story, but during the weeks of her disappearance "police had filed at least 20 search warrants in court linked to the investigation... [and] investigators were also looking through her computer records, probing past relationships and seeking surveillance footage that could offer clues," as was reported by the Associated Press.