ABC News(REDDING, Calif.) — The husband of Sherri Papini, the California mom who was missing for three weeks after allegedly being kidnapped while out jogging, described in detail his wife’s account of the moment when she was released by her alleged captors.
Keith Papini told ABC News’ 20/20 in an exclusive interview that his wife told him she had been in a vehicle with her alleged captors and that her right arm was chained to something inside the car but her left hand was free.
“She was bound … she had a metal chain around her waist,” he said. “She had a bag over her head…she was chained anytime she was in a vehicle.”
Papini said his wife told him that at some point her alleged captors stopped the vehicle and opened the door. “They cut something” that freed her restraint that was holding her in the vehicle, he said, then pushed her out onto the road and drove away.
“She screamed so much, she’s coughing up blood from the screaming trying to get somebody to stop,” he added. “And again just another sign of how my wife is, she’s so wonderful. She’s saying, ‘Well maybe people aren’t stopping because I have a chain that looks like I broke out of prison’ so she tried to tuck in her chain under her clothes.”
Sherri Papini, 34, went missing on Nov. 2 and was found alive on Thanksgiving Day on the side of a road. The mother of two young children, her family described her as a “super mom.”
Authorities said they have interviewed Sherri Papini twice about her ordeal and are still hunting for the alleged kidnappers, who she said dropped her off 150 miles from her California home on Nov. 24.
Based on Sherri Papini’s description of her alleged captors, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told ABC News that authorities are searching for two Hispanic female adults armed with a gun and driving a dark SUV.
One suspect, the younger of the two, was described as having long curly hair and a thick accent, pierced ears and thin eyebrows, Bosenko said, while the other woman, the older one, was described as having straight black hair with some grays and thick eyebrows. Police artists are now working on a composite sketch.
Keith Papini told ABC News in an exclusive statement this week that when he was reunited with his wife at the hospital, her face was “covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings,” that the bridge of her nose had been broken and her signature long blond hair had been chopped off. He added that his wife weighed only 87 pounds when she was found.
Bosenko also told ABC News that Sherri Papini had “branding” on her body that contained “a message.”
He confirmed the details in Keith Papini’s account of his wife’s condition and said police have no reason to doubt her story.
“So far, we are investigating this as a kidnapping-abduction, and everything that she is providing us thus far is indicating that,” he said.
Watch Keith Papini’s emotional interview, in which he describes searching for his wife and then reuniting with her for the first time, on ABC News 20/20 FRIDAY, Dec. 2, at 10 p.m. ET.
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