The bizarre real-life crime drama that was the abduction of Sherri Papini

Sherri Papini was found on Thanksgiving Day (Facebook)
Sherri Papini was found on Thanksgiving Day (Facebook)

It was a story that seemed straight out of a Hollywood film script - beautiful, blonde wife and mother abducted and missing for weeks on end.

But this real life alleged abduction gripped the US this month - so how did it all unfold?


Sherri Papini, 34, gathered up her phone and earbuds and went for one of her usual jogs around her rural neighbourhood on November 2.

That day, her husband Keith Papini arrived home to an empty house - an unusual occurrence. After a concerned phone call, the children's day care said Mrs Papini never came to collect her son and daughter.

Using 'Find my iPhone', Mr Papini discovered her phone and earbuds abandoned on the trail not far from their home. The County Sherriff's department was alerted, and a manhunt involving hundreds of volunteers, family and friends, and multiple law enforcement agencies began.

A US$50,000 reward was offered for the safe return of Mrs Papini.

Mr Papini was considered a suspect in Mrs Papini's disappearance, but was ruled out after successfully passing a lie detector test.

The bizarre real-life crime drama that was the abduction of Sherri Papini

Sherri Papini with her husband Keith and their two young children (Facebook)


Mrs Papini was found on Thanksgiving Day, 22 days after she first went missing, after flagging down a passing car on the motorway. Her hands were bound, and police officers would only say she was chained to a large, heavy object.

She was badly beaten, hysterical, and had been dumped on the roadside more than 200km south of where she was last seen.

The mother-of-two told investigators she had been kidnapped by two Hispanic women travelling in a dark SUV, armed with handguns. The County Sherriff Tom Bosenko said police have no reason to doubt her story, but that the description was based on "voice recognition" - suggesting that Mrs Papini wasn't able to see her captors. 

Mrs Papini conducted her first lengthy interview with investigators today, but is yet to release a public statement.

"This has been the most amazing Thanksgiving that our family could ever ask for," Mrs Papini's sister, Sheila Koester, said after her return. 

"We're all very, very, very excited. Very, very relieved and just very thankful for getting our Sherri back."

Investigations into the kidnapping are ongoing, with police reporting they have no new leads on the two female suspects.