California mom Sherri Papini had ‘message’ burned onto her skin

Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 30, 2016

REDDING, Calif. -- New details are emerging about the injuries suffered by California mother Sherri Papini, who disappeared while jogging in an apparent abduction in early November and was found three weeks later.

Among the other injuries described by her husband, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told "Good Morning America" Wednesday that someone had burned a message onto Papini's skin.

"I would think that was some sort of either an exertion of power and control and/or maybe some type of message that the brand contained," Bosenko said. "It is not a symbol, but it was a message."

Bosenko wouldn't specify what the message was, adding only that her alleged captor or captors were "very sick." Papini's blond hair was cut off as well, and Bosenko suggested that they "may have wanted to not only cut it off not to change her physical appearance but also to humiliate ... to wear her down."

Along with her other injuries, Papini weighed just 87 pounds when she was found, according to a statement from her husband, Keith Papini.  He said that she had been beaten, chained and branded before someone dumped her by the side of a road on Thanksgiving, with a bag over her head.

It was early Thanksgiving morning when Alison Sutton says she saw a woman in trouble on the side of northbound I-5 in Yolo County.

"I have like a vague memory of a flash of her face with a definitely scared look on it," said Sutton.

Seeing a panicked face, blonde hair and an arm waving in the air was enough to startle Sutton, she told KTXL.

"I could have hit her, she just was really close to the side of the road, frantically waving what looked like a shirt, up and down, trying to get someone's attention," Sutton said.

She pulled over, called 911, but had no idea the woman she saw was Sherri Papini; the young mother who vanished during a jog near her Redding home three weeks prior.

"I feel like I, like I should have done more," said Sutton.

Keith Papini wrote about the pain he felt upon seeing his wife for the first time after her disappearance, "My first sight was my wife in a hospital bed, her face covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings, the bridge of her nose broken."

By giving the statement to the media before going to law enforcement, however, he may have compromised parts of the investigation, Sheriff Bosenko said during a recent news conference.

"I did not know he was going to release this until a short time before I did a media interview ... with some of the details he provided it could affect the integrity of the investigation," Bosenko said. "He wrote that and it's out there, he did not talk with us about it, we were a bit surprised by it."

Bosenko says he wants to keep details about Papini's ordeal private, and that his investigators are "working aggressively" to find the kidnappers, who Papini identified as two Hispanic women armed with a handgun in a dark SUV.

Investigators hope that in talking to Papini, she might remember specifics about her abduction.

"Of course we'd be looking for much more detailed information regarding the suspects, the suspect vehicle, where she was held, whether it be one location or separate locations," said Bosenko.

Bosenko says every little detail is vital; from a dent in a car to the way her kidnappers spoke.

Investigators are hunting down every clue until they get to the bottom of what Sherri Papini endured for three weeks.

The Shasta County Sheriff's Office is still asking anyone with information to call (530) 245-6135.