California

Northern California kidnap case full of mystery

  • FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko speaks at a news conference to discuss the Sherri Papini case in Redding, Calif. Three weeks after Papini disappeared, the question of whether she was dead or alive was answered when the young mother and wife was spotted waving frantically for help along a California freeway early on Thanksgiving morning. But the mystery over what happened to her during those 22 days just seemed to grow deeper (Andreas Fuhrmann/The Record Searchlight via AP, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko speaks at a news conference to discuss the Sherri Papini case in Redding, Calif. Three weeks after Papini disappeared, the question of whether she was dead or alive was answered when the young mother and wife was spotted waving frantically for help along a California freeway early on Thanksgiving morning. But the mystery over what happened to her during those 22 days just seemed to grow deeper (Andreas Fuhrmann/The Record Searchlight via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this undated image provided by ABC News, television anchor Matt Gutman, left, interviews Keith Papini, the husband of Sherri Papini, a California mother who went missing for three weeks, on "20/20".  The interview airs Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, at 10 p.m. ET.  (ABC News via AP)

    In this undated image provided by ABC News, television anchor Matt Gutman, left, interviews Keith Papini, the husband of Sherri Papini, a California mother who went missing for three weeks, on "20/20". The interview airs Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, at 10 p.m. ET. (ABC News via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Three weeks after Sherri Papini disappeared, the question of whether she was dead or alive was answered when the young wife and mother was spotted waving frantically for help along a California freeway on Thanksgiving morning.

But the mystery over what happened to her just seemed to grow stranger.

When she was found, she was battered and bruised, her hands were chained, her long blond hair had been chopped off, and her flesh had been branded with a threatening message. She told authorities she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two women while out for a run.

Police in Northern California's Shasta County say they have no reason to doubt her harrowing account. But they have a multitude of questions, among them: Why was she abducted?

No ransom demand was ever received.

Authorities aren't saying what the threatening message said.