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Sherri Papini's husband might have compromised kidnapping probe with public comments, sheriff says

Sherri Papini’s husband may have compromised the investigation into her kidnapping when he released details of her time in captivity to the media without notifying law enforcement, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said Wednesday.

“I did not know he was going to release this until a short time before I did a media interview,” Bosenko said at a news conference. “Yes, I think with some of the details he has provided it could affect the integrity of the investigation.”

Keith Papini released a statement this week stating that his wife was found on the side of a road beaten, chained, with a bag over her head and weighing only 87 pounds.

"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,” he wrote.

In an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Wednesday morning, Bosenko added that Sherri Papini’s hair had been cut off and she had been branded.

“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.”

Shasta County Sheriff’s major crimes investigators have interviewed Sherri Papini over the last two days, Bosenko said.

“She was cooperative and courageous” and did her best to provide a description of her captors, he said.

Papini described her captors as two women who spoke Spanish most of the time, Bosenko said. She described one of the captors as having long curly hair, pierced ears, thin eyebrows and a thick accent. The second captor was described as being older, having straight black hair with some gray and thick eyebrows. 

Deputies are working with a sketch artist to see if they could create renderings, but only the eyes would likely be shown, Bosenko said.  The women had their faces covered much of the time, as did Papini, he said.

The women were driving a dark-colored SUV and had a handgun when they kidnapped Papini, Bosenko said. But when detectives showed her images of SUVs seen on cameras in the area the time of her capture, she told authorities none of them were familiar.

“There’s still a lot of unknown about her assailants. However, we commend Sherri for her efforts to sit down with detectives and provide statements,” he said.

The 34-year-old woman was found bound by restraints along Interstate 5 in Yolo County. Officials were called about 4:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving after Papini flagged down a motorist. The mother of two was treated for injuries and reunited with her husband.

Officials said they were not aware of a motive for the apparent kidnapping. Bosenko also said it was not clear whether Papini knew her abductors.

Before Papini was found, police had filed about 20 search warrants in court related to the investigation. Many were filed under seal, the Sacramento Bee reported. ABC reported that detectives were also looking through Papini’s computer records, investigating past relationships and seeking video surveillance camera footage that might offer clues.

Papini disappeared Nov. 2 while she was out for a jog in the small town of Mountain Gate in Shasta County.

Her husband reported her missing after he came home from work and found that she hadn’t picked up their children from daycare. Her cellphone and headphones were found near where she had last been seen, about a mile from her home, investigators said.

Her disappearance made national news, and the community launched an aggressive manhunt to find her. Her story was shared on social media and volunteer searches were launched.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

Staff writer Esmeralda Bermudez contributed to this report.

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UPDATES:

2:35 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Sheriff Tom Bosenko. 

11:53 a.m.: This story was updated with scheduling of a news conference.

This article was originally published at 8:05 a.m.

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