The husband of a California mother who was allegedly kidnapped while jogging near her home is addressing the family’s ordeal for the first time in a statement released Tuesday.
"Thank you to the many incredible humans that have never known Sherri that facilitated in sharing our heartbreak across the globe," Keith Papini said in the statement, obtained exclusively by “Good Morning America.” “Sherri has always captured my heart and it is no surprise that she has captured the hearts not only through the country, but throughout the world."
Sherri Papini, 34, disappeared on Nov. 2 and was located on Thanksgiving Day by the side of the road, bound by restraints, after she flagged down a motorist on Interstate 5 nearly 150 miles from her Mountain Gate home, officials said.
Papini recalled in the statement the shock he felt at seeing his wife for the first time following her 22-day ordeal. He wrote of seeing her in a hospital bed, face covered in bruises and the bridge of her nose broken. He said she was 87 pounds and had severe burns, rashes and chain markings on her body. He said that her hair had been chopped off and she had been branded.
He said it was his wife’s “will to survive” that brought her back to her family.
"We are very ecstatic to report that Sherri Papini has been located and has been reunited with husband and family on this day of Thanksgiving," Sheriff Tom Bosenko said at a news conference Thursday.
Papini said in his statement that the family is grateful for the support it has received, but called it a “double-edged sword” – citing the growing chorus of people who are calling Sherri Papini’s story a hoax – and that the ordeal has been “exhausting and disgusting.”
After Sherri Papini was found, many took to social media to cast doubts on her story, citing that Papini could not give authorities a detailed description of her abductors.
Some called the GoFundMe account that raised $50,000 the reason for creating a hoax tale, and others quoted anonymous sources as saying Papini had concocted similar kidnapping tales in the past and had posted anti-Latino sentiments on blogs.
"We are not going to allow those people to take away our spirit, love, or rejoice in our girl found alive and home where she belongs," Papini wrote. "I understand people want the story, pictures, proof that this was not some sort of hoax, plan to gain money or some fabricated race war. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie."
Shortly after finding Sherri Papini, authorities said they were looking for "a dark-colored SUV with two Hispanic females armed with a handgun," according to the sheriff.
"I am happy to say that Sherri is now safe and that she has been treated at an area hospital outside of Shasta County for non-life-threatening injuries," Bosenko said. He did not specify the nature of her injuries, but said on Thursday she was treated at a hospital in Sacramento and reunited with her family.