Chains and branded skin: California kidnap case baffles cops

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Amid the wash of emotions Keith Papini experienced upon learning his missing wife was found alive, there was a singular moment of pure joy: the smile on his 4-year-old son's face when he told him the great news.

Police said Papini, a 34-year-old mother of two, was "heavily battered" and "bound with restraints" when she was found near I-5, just north of Woodland, on November 24. "I'm going to do everything I can to find my wife".

According to Keith, the 34-year-old mother of two recalled one of her alleged captors cutting her free "of some restraint that was holding her into the vehicle" before pushing her out and leaving her on the side of the road. "It was my wife screaming in the background, yelling my name", said Keith.

Kenneth J. Ryan, a former police officer who teaches criminology at California State University, Fresno, said the branding allegation - the notion of kidnapping someone to "send a message" - is also rare. "You never need us. until you do", it reads. I already know it's her.

After the family was reunited in hospital, he told the same show: "Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see upon my arrival at the hospital, nor the details of the true hell I was about to hear".

Earlier this week, her husband Keith articulated his horror of visiting Sherri in the hospital for the first time since she was released.

"I was very upset". You're back. Where are you?' And then the phone gets taken away from her.

Papini told investigators she had been abducted by two armed Hispanic women driving in a dark sport-utility vehicle while jogging near her house in Northern California.

The kidnappers finally dumped her on the side of the I-50 highway and sped off in a dark SUV.

But the mystery over what happened to her just seemed to grow stranger. "She says maybe people aren't stopping because I have a chain, it looks like I broke out of prison, so she tried to tuck in her chain under the clothes".

Bosenko told the AP on Monday that investigators have no reason to doubt the harrowing tale told by Sherri Papini.

There are claims a Californian woman's mysterious disappearance, and reappearance with a message branded into her skin, was all part of a freaky publicity stunt.

A driver phoned 911 after being waved down by Papini, despite her being shackled at the hands and wrists and tied to a "heavy object" that is yet to be described in more detail.

The freaky turn of events — with numerous most sensational details released not by authorities but by her husband in an exclusive interview with ABC — has baffled police and set social media aflutter, with armchair detectives scouring the internet's darkest corners for clues and others arguing that the case is some kind of twisted hoax, like something out of the movie "Gone Girl".

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