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Missing mother’s family asks for privacy as she is reunited with husband

By Esmeralda Bermudez • Nov 27, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Family members of Sherri Papini, the Northern California mother missing for three weeks, said they are overjoyed at her return home as more details emerge about her abduction.

“It’s been a range of emotions: sadness, anger. Right now, it’s joy,” Papini’s sister, Sheila Koester, told The Redding Record-Searchlight. “We are overwhelmed with joy of how supportive everyone has been to help bring us together as a family again.”

Koester added in an interview with The Sacramento Bee: “What I can say is that her and (her husband) Keith have been reunited. And that they are very happy to be together and they’re very thankful for everyone for allowing them to have their privacy and allowing them to recover from their situation that all of us have been in.”

Papini was released by her captors on Thanksgiving morning, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko 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. after Papini was able to flag down a motorist. The mother of two was treated for injuries that did not appear life-threatening and reunited with her husband, Keith.

Speaking on “Good Morning America,” Bosenko said detectives are hoping to get more information from Papini soon in an effort to find her kidnappers.

“Obviously she was emotional and quite upset, but elated to be freed, and so we were able to get some information from her,” he added. “Then, in the days following this, we will be following up with her.”

Officials said they were searching for two women in connection with the abduction. They were last seen driving a dark SUV and were believed to be armed with a handgun.

“This investigation is far from over,” Bosenko said.

Officials said they were not aware of a motive for the kidnapping and did not provide details on Papini’s injuries or whereabouts. Bosenko also said it was not clear whether Papini knew her abductors.

The Redding resident disappeared Nov. 2 while 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.

A private group working with Papini’s family released a video Wednesday offering $100,000 to anyone with information leading to her safe return, according to NBC affiliate KNVN.

Bosenko said police had received more than 400 tips in the case, but Papini’s release was not a result of the reward money.

“It shows what a community can do when it works together to get the word out,” he said.

Residents who had been helping with the search were relieved that Papini was found safe.

“It was just the biggest blessing, not only for the family but for the community that’s been trying to find her,” Sandra Oswald, a 29-year-old community organizer in Redding, told Associated Press. “Now, it’s just praying for them and her recovery.”

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©2016 Los Angeles Times

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