In early November, California mom Sherri Papini disappeared, only to return weeks later on Thanksgiving Day, bruised, apparently starved, with her hair chopped off. She claimed she had been abducted, beaten, and branded by two Hispanic women who eventually let her go on the side of the road, 150 miles from home. At the time, there was speculation that the whole story may have been a hoax, due to Papini’s inability to describe the women who took her, eyewitness accounts that placed her near home two days before she reappeared, and anti-Hispanic comments online that have been attributed to her.
While the severity of her injuries make it tough to believe that she faked it, new information has put the notion back in people’s minds. It turns out that when Papini was younger, her family members had called 911 a number of times with reports about her. Claims of property damage from her father and sister may not raise eyebrows, but a 2003 call from Papini’s mother claiming that Papini hurt herself and blamed her mom has raised new questions about the current case. If Papini was accused of harming herself and pinning it on someone else back then, it could lead people to believe she’s doing the same thing now.
On top of this, Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko has told ABC News that while the identities of Papini’s captors are unknown, and the investigation is still ongoing, “There should not be a public safety or a personal safety concern by the public regarding this case
LawNewz.com founder Dan Abrams discussed these revelations on “Good Morning America” with Nancy Grace, and they didn’t exactly see eye to eye on what the new information means. Abrams dismissed most of the 911 reports against Papini as being irrelevant to the current situation, but said that her mother’s claim that Papini harmed herself and made up a story about it are hard to ignore, given its similarity to the kidnapping case. “That does start to look a little bit like this case; doesn’t mean that that’s what happened, but I think it is relevant in assessing the investigation,” Abrams said.
Grace, on the other hand, wasn’t buying it. “The fact that she may have self-harmed in the past, that is a serious illness, a problem that she had, and now it’s being dredged up and used against her.” Grace mentioned how ABC’s own reporter hardly recognized Papini due to the severity of her injuries. “I think this is victim blaming,” she declared.
But Abrams felt that more important than the 911 calls is the Sheriff’s Office telling locals that they don’t have to worry about anything. “If she was abducted, the community does need to be concerned … if strangers took her in a van off the street, the community should be worried.”
“Yes, I find that significant,” Grace admitted. She also brought up another detail in the case that has troubled her. “Her cell phone that was found where she was allegedly abducted had the earbuds coiled neatly on it and it was placed in the grass,” Grace noted. “That is a fact that’s always bothered me, not what she did 10 years ago.” Still, Grace said that the nature of Papini’s injuries outweigh that. “You’d have to believe all of this was self-inflicted, and that’s hard for me to believe.”