The story of Sherry Papini, 34, is one of the most bizarre kidnapping cases in recent years.
On November 2, 2016, Sherri, vanished without a trace in Northern California while jogging near her home in Redding. Her family and the community were shocked that such a beautiful and outgoing young woman could be abducted while innocently jogging in such a safe and tranquil place.
22 days later, at approximately 4:30 a.m., on Thanksgiving morning, a passing motorist saw Papini desperately waving on the side of the road in Yolo County. The location is approximately 150 miles south of her home near Interstate 5 and County Road 17.
Papini was severely emaciated weighing only 85 pounds and bound at her waist by a chain that was fastened to her wrist with a zip tie. Shasta County Sheriff’s Office described hose clamps attached to both of her ankles as “pain compliant restraints.”
Papini told police she had been abducted at gunpoint by two Hispanic females driving a dark SUV, who primarily spoke Spanish around her. She had also been branded on the left shoulder, though a description of the brand has never been released.
Keith Papini, Sherri’s husband, described his wife as being covered in bruises that ranged from yellow to black, the bridge of her nose was fractured, and her long blonde hair cruelly chopped off.
On November 2, Papini’s husband Keith returned from his job at Best Buy and could not find his wife at home. He was immediately concerned. He frantically searched the house and then pulled out his iPhone.
Keith told the 911 operator he came home from work to find his wife and children gone and that his wife had never arrived at daycare to pick them up. He also told the operator he used the “Find My iPhone” app to locate his wife’s cell phone and earbuds along a dirt trail at the intersection of Sunrise Avenue and Old Oregon Trail, approximately one mile from their home.
“I just drove down there, and I found her phone with her headphones because she started running again, and I found her phone and it’s got her hair ripped out of it, like in the headphones,” Keith told the NZ Herald. “I’m freaking out, thinking that somebody, like, grabbed her.”
When police began their investigation, they began a ground search and distributing flyers throughout the area shortly thereafter.
The search for Papini gained attention throughout the United States and internationally with people all over the world wondering what happened to Sherri Papini.
When Papini was found she had both female and male DNA on her. “It’s still an active and ongoing investigation,” said Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko in November 2018. Police have not determined why Papini was abducted, where she had spent 22 days and why she was released.
Papini told police that just before her release, she heard her captors arguing, then a gunshot. The younger attacker then took her from the room where she had been held and dropped her off at the nearest corner. However, early on, her story wasn’t adding up to the police.
“The male DNA was compiled from the clothing Sherri had been wearing,” said Sgt. Brian Jackson. Also, the female DNA was taken directly from Papini’s body.
These facts didn’t coincide with the story that Papini had been abducted and held by two female abductors. Also, the male DNA did not match her husband’s, fueling speculation that Papini had met up with a man willingly. The DNA samples were uploaded in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) at the FBI, but there have been no matches.
Frustrated with the lack of progress with the investigation by police, Keith Papini set up a GoFundMe page during 2017, to raise money for a missing person private investigator. This in turn would frustrate the police, who thought it would compromise the investigation.
Theories and speculation began swirling around in the public sphere about what happened to her, including conjecture that she had been kidnapped by sex traffickers, was involved in a drug deal gone bad, or had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but somewhere along the line the public started doubting Papini’s story.
While police say they have no reason not to believe her story, some details of her case caused some people to question whether she had been taken and held against her will.
During the police investigation, authorities had uncovered text messages between Sherry and a male acquaintance who resides in Michigan. Police determined they had an online texting relationship, but it was unclear if the two ever had a romantic relationship.
“The text messages went back several months to days before the disappearance,” Jackson told People. “It was prior contact that she had years before. Somebody she met and kept in contact with. A male acquaintance she was talking to through texting.”
Many experts believe the public scrutiny of Papini’s story has been unfair. Thomas Lauth, CEO of Lauth Investigations International is an expert in the field of missing persons and a missing person private investigator for over 25 years. “Few people would ever willingly subject themselves to the abuse and trauma Papini experienced,” said Lauth. “The branding, the starvation, the cutting of hair willingly — just does not make sense.”
Papini’s Life After the Abduction
Three years later, police seem no closer to closing this mysterious case. The paparazzi still follow Papini around trying to get a shot, which has forced her to live like a recluse.
Last year, a neighbor told Newsweek that Papini leads a “very quiet life” at home and rarely goes outside while trying to put back the pieces of her life.
“She doesn’t come out of the house,” neighbor Joyce Allison said. “I don’t see the kids outside playing in the yard.”
Another neighbor who requested anonymity said they just wanted the family to find closure. “I hope if her story is true that she’s getting along alright and getting counseling so she can live with it and get better,” the neighbor said. “But, is it a real story? I don’t know. I hope one day we’ll all have answers.”
For the Papini family, we can only try to imagine what life has been like being forced into hiding and that they, too, need answers.
While scars heal and hair grows back, the brand on her shoulder will forever be a reminder of the traumatic events she endured, whether the public believes her or not.
Suzanne “Suzi” Streeter, Stacy McCall and Sherrill Levitt
Suzanne Streeter, 19, along with her mother Sherrill Levitt, 47, and best friend Stacy McCall, 18, all vanished June 7, 1992 from Springfield, Mo.
The girls had planned on staying at a hotel in Branson, Mo., then visit the White-Water amusement park in the morning. Stacy called her mother to tell her they instead decided to stay at a friend’s home in Battlefield, Mo.
After the police were called due to a noise complaint, the two girls head over to Sherrill’s house to spend the rest of the night.
Sherill had been home that evening and the girls arrived at approximately 2:15 a.m.
The following morning their friends tried to reach Stacy and Suzanne at the mother’s residence, phoning and stopping by but they could not be located. All the women’s personal belongings were found inside the home but the three were never found. The only physical evidence left at the scene was a broken porch light.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Suzanne Streeter, Stacy McCall or Sherrill Levitt, please call the Springfield Police Department at 417-864-1810.
Charlene Voight, 36, had just graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Landscape Architecture and excited to start in her new career path. She decided to pursue her career and relationship and travel from Calif., to Littleton, Colo., and move in with her boyfriend.
After not hearing from Charlene for several days, her parents reported her missing on July 8, 2016. Her car was found abandoned in a gravel lot about a block from the apartment complex she had been living with her boyfriend.
A few weeks after Charlene vanished her boyfriend was arrested on unrelated charges of sexual assault involving another woman.
Authorities searched a Commerce City landfill in March following her disappearance, but the search ended after four months. Police never made public what prompted them to conduct a search. Charlene’s was not recovered; however, they did locate some of her clothes, now undergoing DNA testing to see if they link to a suspect in her disappearance.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Charlene Voight, please call Littleton Police Department at 303-794-1551.
Sarah Galloway, 38, has Down’s Syndrome. On the morning of March 21, 2019, she vanished from the front porch of her rural home in Picture Rocks, near Tucson, Ariz. Sarah functions at the level of an 8-year old child and very trusting of people. Her mother Sherry Galloway says, “Nobody is a stranger to Sarah.”
Volunteers immediately canvassed the area surrounding the residence, along with canines and aerial searches but the ground searches were later called off because they produced no leads. Pima County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Sarah Galloway, please call Pima County Sheriff’s Office at 520-88-CRIME (27463).
Corinna Slusser, 19, was last seen in the early morning hours of September 20, 2017, at the Haven Motel in Queens, New York.
Two months earlier in July, Corinna contacted her mother and told her that she had met a man who had offered her a place to stay in New York City. She immediately left with only her cell phone, identification, and the clothes on her back. Daily, Corrina was on Facebook and Instagram, but all social media activity has since stopped. Her family fears Corinna has been kidnapped into sex trafficking.
NYPD says the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Corinna Slusser, please call NYPD at 800-577-TIPS (8477).
Keith Bailey, 48, vanished August 6, 2019. He went to a three-mile walk before work that Tuesday morning, but his wife Nikki Bailey later found out he never arrived at work. His cell phone was last pinged on Highway 87 heading northeast to Payson, Ariz. He was driving a newly purchased dark-gray 2018 Toyota Tacoma truck with temporary license plates.
His credit card revealed he had filled up on fuel in Payson but there has been no further activity on their bank account.
Keith is the principal materials engineer for ARTL Laboratories in Phoenix. “He wasn’t sleeping,” said his wife Nikki. “He was having trouble going to work. And he loved that job.”
If you have information about the disappearance of Keith Bailey, please call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151.
Elaine Park, 20, vanished during the early morning of January 28, 2017, in Calabasas, Calif. Elaine had driven to her on again – off again boyfriend’s home to stay the night but he told authorities that Elaine had a panic attack around 4 a.m. the following morning. He said he tried to get her to stay at his home, but she left in her vehicle.
Three days later Elaine’s 2015 Honda Accord was found abandoned on the shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway unlocked with the keys still in the ignition. Authorities found her cell phone and other personal belonging s inside the car.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Elaine Park, please call the Glendale Police Department at 818-548-4911.
Stacy Smart, 51, has been missing from the small Trinity County town of Lewiston, Calif. According to the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, she vanished October 12, 2016, from the home she shared with her boyfriend.
Stacey’s daughter Nicole Santos said her mother usually celebrated Halloween with her but when she didn’t show up at her home that night, Santos went looking for her the following day and found out her mother’s friends had not seen her for weeks. Trinity County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Stacey Smart, please call the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office at 530-623-3740.
Logan Schiendelman, 19, vanished May 19, 2016, from Tumwater, Wash. Raised by his grandmother, she pinged his cell phone that revealed Logan was in the area of his mother in Olympia. Furth activity on his phone indicated he had driven south on Interstate 5, then back north, then south again, then north, then south again.
His black, 1996 Chrysler Sebring was later found abandoned on Interstate 5 between Tumwater and Maytown. Several drivers called 911 describing a man jumping out of his vehicle and running into the woods.
Foul play has not been ruled out in this case. There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to his whereabouts.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Logan Schiendelman, please call the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office at 360-786-5599.
Jasmine Moody, 18, a nursing student at Texas Women’s University, went missing on December 4, 2014, from Detroit, Mich.
Jasmine had met a woman through social media and traveled from her home in Texas to Detroit to visit the woman and her family for the Thanksgiving holiday. On the evening of December 4, Jasmine and the woman for into an argument about Jasmine’s social media posts and has never been seen again.
The woman told authorities that Jasmine had left her home and ran out into the cold leaving her cell phone, purse and identification at the home. Foul play is suspected in this case.
There is a $2,500.00 reward for information that leads to the whereabouts of Jasmine.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Jasmine Moody, please call the Detroit Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.
Kristen Modafferi, 18, vanished on June 23, 1997 in San Francisco, Calif.
Kristen was an industrial design major at North Carolina University and traveled to San Francisco to attend a summer photography course at the University of California at Berkeley.
She was employed part-time at Spinelli’s coffee shop at the Crocker Galleria in the financial district of San Francisco. She also worked at Café Musee inside the Museum of Modern Art on the weekends.
On June 23, Kristen asked a coworker at Spinelli’s for directions to Baker Beach which is located next to Land’s End Beach west of the city. Her shift ended at 3:00 p.m. that day, but she was seen on the second level of the Galleria with an unidentified blonde woman. That woman has never been identified.
Despite thousands of leads and appearances on national television shows nothing has led to information that would lead to Kristen. Police say the investigation is ongoing.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Kristen Modafferi, please call Oakland Police Department at 510-238-6341.