Sherri Papini screamed so hard for help she was ‘coughing up blood,’ her husband says in interview


After she was freed from weeks of captivity, Redding mother Sherri Papini screamed for help so hard she coughed up blood, her husband said.

In his first interview since his wife was found on the side of Interstate 5 in Yolo County on Thanksgiving morning, Keith Papini told ABC’s “20/20” that his wife was constantly chained to objects so she couldn’t escape and tried desperately to stop passing cars once she was free.

“She screamed so much, she’s coughing up blood from the screaming trying to get somebody to stop,” Papini said in the interview scheduled to air Friday. “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.”


Bruised, emaciated and unsure of where she was, Papini still had a chain around her waist when she managed to successfully flag down a driver. Her hair had been cut off, she had been branded with a “message,” and her nose was broken, her husband and Shasta County sheriff’s officials said.

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, officials said. Her cellphone and headphones were found near where she had last been seen, about a mile from her home, investigators said.

Authorities are looking for two women believed to be responsible for the abduction. They couldn’t determine where Papini had been held the three weeks she was gone or if she had been moved during that time.

Her kidnappers covered their faces and usually had a bag over Papini’s head, her husband said. The women freed her by simply kicking her out of their car on the side of the road, he told ABC.

“She was chained anytime she was in the vehicle,” he said. “They opened the door, she doesn’t know [where] because she’s got a bag over her head. They cut something to free her restraint that was holding her in the vehicle, and then kind of pushed her out of the vehicle.”


In an interview with KOBI-TV, the driver who found Papini described the strange scene.

“”I see this blonde woman waving what looks like a brown flannel shirt up and down desperately trying to flag someone down,” Alison Sutton said. “I could have hit her because she was so close to the side of the road.”

Papini’s chain was about a quarter-inch thick and her wrists were restrained with hose clamps, an officer told police dispatchers. She was found before sunrise about 150 miles from her home. 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. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko also said it was not clear whether Papini knew her abductors.

Keith Papini released a statement this week saying his wife was found with bruises “ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings” and that the bridge of her nose had been broken.

In an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Wednesday morning, Bosenko said 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.”

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, with thick eyebrows and straight black hair with some gray.

Deputies are working with a sketch artist to see if they could create renderings, but only the eyes would likely be shown, Bosenko said.

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