SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The husband of a California mother who went missing for three weeks said his wife was covered with bruises and burns and was chained at the waist and wrists when she was found on Thanksgiving.
In a written statement to “Good Morning America,” Keith Papini also addressed social media chatter doubting his wife’s story of abduction and assault.
“Rumors, assumptions, lies, and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting,” he wrote. “I understand people want the story, pictures, proof that this was not some sort of hoax, plan to gain money, or some fabricated race war. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie.”
Keith Papini has not returned several phone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told the AP on Monday that investigators have no reason to doubt the harrowing tale told by 34-year-old Sherri Papini.
Keith Papini said his wife weighed just 87 pounds and the bridge of her nose was broken when she was tossed from a vehicle along Interstate 5 near Sacramento with her hands restrained and a bag over her head.
Her signature long, blonde hair had been chopped off.
Her husband said she used the bag to flag down help after she managed to free a hand. Since then, police have been looking for two women driving a dark-colored SUV.
Bosenko said Sherri Papini was unable to recall any details about her abduction when first questioned soon after being found. He said victims of traumatic experiences sometimes suffer from memory loss regarding the events.
“The mind can block out some of that traumatic event,” he said.
Bosenko said it was apparent that Sherri Papini had been battered, but she was not admitted to a hospital that treated her injuries, which Bosenko declined to discuss in detail.
Papini, the mother of two young children, disappeared while jogging Nov. 2 near her home in Redding, California, about 140 miles north of Sacramento. Her husband was cleared as a suspect after passing a polygraph test.
When she was released, her face was “covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings, the bridge of her nose broken,” Keith Papini said in his statement.
“My Sherri suffered tremendously and all the visions swirling in your heads of her appearance, I assure you, are not as graphic and gruesome as the reality,” he wrote.
Bosenko said the case is puzzling for a number of reasons, including motive. He said no ransom demand was made and the Papinis are of modest means
Bosenko also said he hopes to elicit a better description of the suspects, including one who is thought to be armed with a handgun.
Family members previously called Sherri Papini a “super mom” who would never abandon her family. Her husband reported her missing when she failed to pick up their two children from day care.
Her cellphone and headphones were found near the site where she was last seen.
“She could drop her phone, but she would never in a million years not pick up our children at the time that she normally would have,” Keith Papini told “Good Morning America” before his wife was found.