A TV special on Sherri Papini, the California mom who police said was kidnapped and returned last fall, offered several details but few developments in the captivating case Tuesday. "Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen," a syndicated investigation series, aired an episode about Papini that included interviews with her friend Lisa Jeter, hostage negotiator Cameron Gamble and the anonymous donor who put up thousands of dollars to try to incentivize her release.
Hansen's efforts to contact the Papinis went unanswered — even when he knocked on the door of their house — but there was a small bit of news in the case. Jeter provided an update on Papini, who vanished Nov. 2 while on a jog and turned up, beaten and bruised, far from her city of Redding on Thanksgiving Day.
"I talked to her just after she was home," Jeter told Hansen. "We cried for about 10 minutes. She just said how grateful she was that she was home."
Jeter acknowledged that there were "a lot" of questions remaining in Papini's case, even though the friend said she fully believed "someone took her." "There's a lot of things that don't add up — why they took her, why they brought her back," Jeter added after Hansen's prompting.
Papini hasn't made any public appearances since her return, but she was photographed outside her home in early January. In one of their last updates, the Shasta County Sheriff's Office revealed that Papini told them she'd been abducted by two Hispanic women, though no sketches or further descriptions of the suspects have been released so far.
Hansen divulged specifics on her time in captivity, as well. Citing sources, Hansen said Papini had been kept in a "dark, dingy holding cell where she was starved." He added that she went to a special medical center after she returned.
The circumstances around Papini's case have led amateur sleuths and others following the case to speculate that her November disappearance may have been a hoax. But Gamble, who made videos announcing the anonymous donor's reward for Papini's return and later turned it into a bounty, told Hansen he thought she was indeed abducted — likely in connection with sex trafficking.
Last year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 1,323 calls about human trafficking in the Golden State. Of those, 1,045 were sex trafficking. The vast majority of victims were adult women.
Gamble also said he thought Papini might have known her captors. "What's the No. 1 control factor that traffickers have over victims? It's fear," he said. "And a lot of times it's the fear of being able to do harm to your family, especially in a local community."
See more clips from the Papini episode on "Crime Watch Daily" here.
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