Police Reports on Kidnapped 'Super Mom' Sherri Papini Raise New Questions

Sherri Papini
Shasta Country Sherrif's Office
While there are officially no new developments in the kidnapping case of Sherri Papini, recently revealed details about the California mom's past are raising new questions about the incident. Papini, 34, disappeared in November 2016 while jogging, only to be found on the side of the road three weeks later, allegedly after being thrown out of a vehicle by her assailants. But according to a report unearthed by the Sacramento Bee, this wasn't the first time local detectives got involved in Papini's life: Her mother, Loretta Graeff, called the same law enforcement department thirteen years before claiming that Papini was harming herself and blaming the injuries on Graeff.


The 2003 Shasta County Sheriff's Department incident report doesn't say whether or not officials found evidence that 21-year-old Papini was indeed harming herself, but other calls were reportedly made by members of her family around the same time: In 2000, Papini's father, Richard Graeff, accused his daughter of burglarizing his residence; three years later, he accused her of making unauthorized withdrawals from his checking account. Also in 2000, Papini's sister, Sheila Koester, claimed that someone kicked in her back door -- and that she believed it was Papini. Shasta County sheriff's lieutenant Pat Kropholler reportedly did not respond to questions about whether Papini had been charged with any crimes, but did say that he spoke with her mother in 2000 and gave her advice.

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Kropholler also would not answer any questions regarding the abduction, saying only that there is a full-time detective assigned to the case and the investigation is ongoing. In November, Shasta County sheriff Tom Bosenko dismissed the idea that Papini had faked the abduction, telling the Sacramento Bee, "All the information that we have right now we have no reason to believe that she is making this up."

One would have to assume that the "new" report was included in "all the information" Bosenko mentioned, which would have to mean that officials aren't considering Papini's past as a reason to doubt her ... but many are still bound to be suspicious.

One of the most shocking aspects of her kidnapping was the physical state she was in upon her return (severely underweight and covered in bruises and scabs, with her long hair chopped off and a mysterious "message" branded into her skin). But if Papini has a history of hurting herself and saying other people did it, does that mean she could have inflicted those injuries herself? It's not really fair to make that leap, but given all the unanswered questions surrounding this case, it's only natural to wonder. Still, Papini's post-abduction injuries were said to be severe, including several broken bones in her face. Could she really have done that to herself? (No one in the family has commented on the old report as of yet.)

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Other details from Papini's past have cast similar doubts: A racially charged essay on a now defunct website signed by a "Sherri Graeff" (Papini's maiden name) detailed the author's fights while growing up in Shasta County with Latinos who allegedly had a problem with her because she was "drug-free, white and proud" of her "blood and heritage." There is no proof that Papini is the Sherri who wrote the post, but it's perhaps worth noting that she described her abductors as two Latina women. (Another point of potential interest: Papini had a Pinterest account with a section marked "Cultural Differences" including memes expressing concerns about illegal immigrants and Muslims, which has been taken down.)

Of course, none of this should be used as evidence against Papini, and making assumptions about someone's character based on a patchwork of allegations from years past should absolutely be avoided. That said, the court of public opinion has damned people based on less -- and in high-profile cases like this one, basically everyone involved is "on trial" until someone is convicted. 

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