Crime - Sacto 911

Missing mom abducted 3 weeks ago was found early Thanksgiving in Yolo County

The Redding-area mother who disappeared earlier this month was found safe around 4:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning after flagging down a driver on Interstate 5 in Yolo County, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said Thursday.

Sherri Papini, 34, was bound with restraints when she was found. She was released on a rural road and was able to flag down a motorist on the freeway near County Road 17, Bosenko said.

“We are very ecstatic to report that Sherri Papini has been located and has been reunited with her husband and family on this day of Thanksgiving,” Bosenko said. “I am happy to say that Sherri is now safe.”

The Sheriff’s Office believes Papini was abducted while jogging one mile from her home, and authorities are searching for two women armed with a handgun.

Bosenko said at an afternoon press conference that Papini was injured during her abduction, but did not provide details on the extent of her injuries. She was treated at a hospital in the Sacramento area and released.

The sheriff said police are looking for two Hispanic women driving a dark-colored sports utility vehicle in connection with the abduction, based on Papini’s description.

Authorities have no other information about the suspects, including other details of their appearance or clothing, he said.

“Detectives will not rest until her captor or captors are identified and brought to justice,” the sheriff said.

Until the suspects are found, “The public should remain cautious,” Bosenko said.

Papini’s husband, Keith, reported Sherri Papini missing on Nov. 2 after she didn’t pick up her two young children from day care that afternoon, something her family members say was completely out of character for the devoted mom.

Keith Papini “is by Sherri’s side,” Bosenko said.

Bosenko said authorities do not know if Papini knew her abductors. They do not have information about exactly where she was kept or whether she was kept in the same place for the duration of her captivity. They do not know if the abduction was planned or done impulsively.

Authorities do know if she spoke to her captors but are not releasing that information due to the active investigation.

No one called in a tip related to the suspects and Bosenko said he did not believe that a ransom for Papini’s safe return played a role.

Bosenko declined to detail Papini’s injuries and declined to say whether she was sexually assaulted. He said the injuries were not life threatening.

The abduction has captivated much of Shasta County and Northern California, and residents here expressed relief Thursday that Papini was found safe.

“We are so happy,” said Cydney Carpenter, a Paradise resident whose daughter Heather was abducted and killed a decade ago. She and her husband, Ed, decided to spend Thanksgiving putting up fliers to help with the search. “We came up to support the family.”

Bosenko said “this is a critical and active investigation.” He said authorities in Shasta and Yolo counties are involved.

Ryan Sabalow contributed to this report. Phillip Reese: 916-321-1137, @PhillipHReese

Related stories from Sacramento Bee