An anonymous donor has offered an undisclosed ransom in the case of the Redding-area “supermom” who disappeared after jogging near her home earlier this month.
The benefactor said that if Sherri Papini, 34, isn’t returned immediately, the deal expires at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
“We wanted to create a sense of urgency,” said Cameron Gamble, who describes himself as a defense contractor who works with missionary groups and trains government employees on how to avoid being taken hostage overseas.
Gamble said he’s not actually the person offering the reward, though he would facilitate the transaction. Instead, he says an out-of-town man approached a mutual friend of his and Papini’s and offered to provide a cash ransom in the hopes it would bring the young woman home.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Gamble said law enforcement won’t be involved, and he will work to ensure the kidnapper can receive the ransom discreetly.
He said the kidnapper can call a temporary line he created at 530-351-2748 or can visit www.sherripapini.com, a website created by the anonymous donor, to learn more.
Gamble said the amount of ransom money available is substantial, but he declined to say how much. “The cash is ready to go,” he said.
While local authorities have warned against Gamble going this route out of concerns it could impede the investigation, lead to scam attempts and likely be a waste of time, Gamble said he believes he’s legally in the clear.
“I’m in no way, shape or form interfering with their case,” he said. “It’s never been illegal in the United States to pay a ransom.”
Separately, Secret Witness of Shasta County is offering $10,000 for information that would lead detectives to a suspect. The family is offering $40,000. An online fundraising campaign is also raising donations.
Papini’s husband, Keith, reported Sherri Papini missing on Nov. 2 after she didn’t pick up her young children from day care that afternoon, something her family members say was completely out of character for the devoted mom.
Using a cellphone locator program, Keith Papini found her phone, headphones and some strands of her blond hair near Sunrise Drive and Old Oregon Trail in the town of Mountain Gate, a 10-minute drive north of Redding.
In the three weeks since she vanished, Shasta County sheriff’s investigators say they’ve received close to 400 tips.
Investigators say they’ve spoken with friends and acquaintances, as well as “people Sherri has had past relationships with” to try to find her. “This type of follow-up has taken detectives out of state in the hopes that Sherri could be found,” Sgt. Brian Jackson said last week in a written statement.
Detectives have authored close to 20 search warrants, and they’re examining cellphone records, bank accounts, email and social media profiles. Investigators have declined to discuss what prompted them to file the search warrants or why detectives have traveled out of state.
“The search warrants are sealed, as information contained … may compromise or impede the investigation,” Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said in an email.
Detectives say they ruled out Keith Papini as a potential suspect after they verified he was at work when she disappeared.
Missing: Sherri Papini
Last seen: Nov. 2 on Sunrise Drive and Old Oregon Trail in the town of Mountain Gate.
Description: Blond, 5 feet 4 inches tall, 100 pounds. She was believed to be wearing a pink running top.
Reward: Secret Witness of Shasta County is offering $10,000 for information that would lead detectives to a suspect. The family is offering $40,000. An online fundraising campaign also is accepting donations.
Tips: Call 530-243-2319 or 530-245-6135.
Here’s the link for the campaign: bit.ly/2fWR3ES