Crime - Sacto 911

Relative defends husband of missing Redding-area ‘supermom’

Sherri Papini, a 34-year-old Redding woman, went missing Wednesday in Shasta County. Her husband, Keith Papini, said on “Good Morning America” that he believes she was abducted.
Sherri Papini, a 34-year-old Redding woman, went missing Wednesday in Shasta County. Her husband, Keith Papini, said on “Good Morning America” that he believes she was abducted. Shasta County Sheriff’s Office

A relative of a missing Redding-area woman took to Facebook early Tuesday morning to defend the woman’s husband from what he described as baseless rumors that he was somehow involved in her disappearance or that she abandoned her family.

Rod Rodriguez III, who identified himself on Facebook as both Sherri and Keith Papini’s father-in-law, said in a post that Keith Papini has fully cooperated with law enforcement and had a clear-cut alibi on Wednesday when Sherri Papini vanished after being spotted that afternoon on a jog north of Redding.

“We recognize that in 80 percent of the disappearance cases the spouse is responsible,” he wrote. “But conversely, that means in 20 percent of the cases the spouse is not involved. This case falls into the latter category.”

He said the husband has been interrogated multiple times by police.

“He never once ‘lawyered up’ and has cooperated fully without hesitation,” he wrote, adding that Keith Papini allowed the police to search the family’s home and cars without a warrant on the night of the disappearance. He also handed over cellphones, laptops, iPads and other items, Rodriguez said.

He said Keith Papini was at work at Best Buy on the day of the disappearance, and his work vehicle has GPS tracking that verified his location throughout the day. Plus, he said, investigators have used cellphone tracking data to confirm his whereabouts. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office didn’t return messages left on Monday and Tuesday.

Rodriguez also said that Sherri Papini didn’t behave like a woman who was about to leave her family. He said that two days before she vanished, she left a message “claiming dibs on cooking sweet potatoes ‘the way the kids like them’ for our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner we were hosting.”

“Hardly the actions of someone planning a disappearance in two days,” Rodriguez wrote.

Sherri Papini, 34, didn’t return from an afternoon jog Wednesday and failed to pick up her children from day care. Papini’s cellphone was found, using a phone-locator program, off a rural road north of Redding near where she was spotted earlier in the day on her jog. Her headphones and some strands of hair also were found nearby, according to media reports.

“Everybody who knows my wife knows that there’s no reason for her to leave,” Keith Papini, told ABC News on Sunday in an interview that aired on “Good Morning America.” “She was definitely taken against her will.”

Searchers have been combing the area of Sunrise Drive and Old Oregon Trail in the town of Mountain Gate, where the 5-foot-4-inch, 100-pound blond woman was last seen in a pink running top.

Papini does not have any known medical or mental health issues, and has never left like this before, detectives said. Family members have described her as a devoted “supermom” who would never abandon her children.

Secret Witness of Shasta County is offering a $10,000 reward for information that would lead detectives to a suspect. The family also is offering $40,000. Papini’s family started an online fundraising campaign to expand the reward.

Tipsters can call 530-243-2319 or call detectives at 530-245-6135.

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow

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