Sheriff: California mom missing for nearly 3 weeks was ‘branded’ by ‘very sick person’

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REDDING, Calif. — The 34-year-old mom from California who disappeared for nearly three weeks was branded with a message, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office told ABC on Wednesday.

Sherri Papini was reported missing on Nov. 2 after she didn’t return from a run near her home in Redding.

Papini was found on the side of Interstate 5 in Yolo County on Thanksgiving, 150 miles from her home.

She was chained at the waist and wrists, covered with bruises and burns, and weighed just 87 pounds, her husband, Keith Papini said in a statement to “Good Morning America.”

Keith Papini also said his wife’s long blonde hair had been chopped off.

“Obviously, a very sick person who may have wanted to not only to cut it off to change her physical appearance but also as to humiliate them, wear her down,” Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told ABC News.

Bosenko said Papini was also branded with a message.

“I would think that that was some sort of either an exertion of power and control and/or maybe some type of message that the brand contained,” he said on  “Good Morning America.” “It is not a symbol, but it was a message.”

Bosenko said Keith Papini might have compromised the investigation by talking to the media about the details of his wife’s injuries.

“I think with some of the details he has provided it could affect the integrity of the investigation,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Bosenko as saying.

Keith Papini was cleared as a suspect after passing a polygraph test. He also addressed speculation that the kidnapping was a hoax.

“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,” Keith 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.”

“We currently have no reason to disbelieve Sherri Papini’s story,” Bosenko said Sunday. “She was assaulted and had injuries which she was treated for.”

Bosenko said Sherri Papini couldn’t recall any details about her abduction when she was first questioned but he said memory loss wasn’t uncommon in victims of traumatic experiences.

“The mind can block out some of that traumatic event,” Bosenko said.

Bosenko said investigators still don’t have a motive for the alleged abduction. He said no ransom demand was made and the Papinis are not a wealthy family.

The sheriff said investigation is still active and that authorities are “looking for a dark-colored SUV with two Hispanic females armed with a handgun.”

“Suspect No. 1 was the younger of the two suspects. She had long, curly hair. She had a thick accent, she had pierced ears, she had thin eyebrows,” Bosenko said. “Suspect No. 2 was the older of the two suspects. She had straight black hair with some graying color. She had thick eyebrows.”