Sherri Papini's mysterious disappearance: Was it a publicity stunt?

Sherri and  Keith Papini (Supplied)
Sherri and Keith Papini (Supplied)

There are claims a Californian woman's mysterious disappearance, and reappearance with a message branded into her skin, was all part of a bizarre publicity stunt.

Sherri Papini, 34, disappeared after going jogging in early November. She was found dumped by the side of the road three weeks later.

Her husband, Keith Papini, says she was covered in bruises and burns, and had been chained and confined. Her hair had also been cut off, and she had been branded - a common procedure with gangs and sex traffickers.

Police are investigating different leads, ranging from abduction by a stalker to kidnap by sex-slavers.

But the case is increasingly being eyed with suspicion. One of the key players in the search made a video four years before Ms Papini's abduction, which eerily parallels the current situation.

Cameron Gamble was part of a team put together by Mr Papini to help find his wife.

The former soldier calls himself a "kidnap and ransom consultant", and founded an agency which teaches Christian missionaries to "prevent, survive, and escape hostile situations".

The promotional video shows a woman - who looks suspiciously like Ms Papini - being kidnapped and bound in a dungeon.

Mr Gamble then offers the victim advice on how to escape.

The similarities between the video and Ms Papini's abuse have drawn the attention of amateur online investigators, who have claimed Mr Gamble kidnapped her as part of a publicity stunt for his business.

Ms Papini says all she can remember of her captives is a limited description of two Hispanic women.