A California mother, Sherri Papini, disappeared while jogging one morning in early November. Over the next three weeks, law enforcement, her family and friends, and the community searched frantically for her, chasing down every possible lead.
Unfortunately, there were also people in the community and online who spread rumors about Sherri and her family and speculated that her disappearance was faked.
Sherri was found Thanksgiving Day in Yolo County, over 100 miles from her home in Shasta County. California Highway Patrol dispatch logs say she was “heavily battered” and “chained to something.”
Her husband, Keith, issued a statement Tuesday morning detailing the horrific abuse his wife endured and addressing the rumor mongers:
“The first thing I would like to address is the overwhelming amount of gratitude our entire family has for the thousands of people that have been on this torturous journey with us. I cannot possibly name each and every person, although their names are eternally etched in our hearts….
Secondly, we live in a nation of free speech, accompanied with an era of technology that provides immediate gratification. This is a double edged sword. I am grateful for this system as it is what spread my wife’s face quickly throughout the world, gaining the attention of thousands. The unfortunate side is that some people have been sitting in angering, expectant, positions waiting for the gory details.
Rumors, assumptions, lies, and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting. Those people should be ashamed of their malicious, sub-human behavior. 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. 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. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie. Instead, may I give you a glimpse of the mixture of horror and elation that was my experience of reuniting with the love of my life and mother of our children.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see upon my arrival at the hospital, nor the details of the true hell I was about to hear. The mental prison I was in over the past three weeks was shattered when my questions of my wife’s reality became known.
The officers warned me to brace myself. My first sight was my wife in a hospital bed, her face covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings, the bridge of her nose broken.
Her now emaciated body of 87 pounds was covered in multi colored bruises, severe burns, red rashes, and chain markings. Her signature long, blonde hair had been chopped off. She has been branded and I could feel the rise of her scabs under my fingers. She was thrown from a vehicle with a chain around her waist, attached to her wrists and a bag over her head. The same bag she used to flag someone down once she was able to free one of her hands. Sherri was taken from us for 22 days, and suffered incredibly through both intense physical agony and severe mental torture. My reaction was one of extreme happiness and overwhelming nausea as my eyes and hands scanned her body. I was filled with so much relief and revulsion at once. My Sherri suffered tremendously and all the visions swirling in your heads of her appearance, I assure you, are not as graphic and gruesome as the reality.
We are a very private family whom do not use social media outlets prior to this grotesque tragedy. My love for my wife took precedents and it was clear we had to be exposed in ways we never would have been comfortable with. So please have a heart and understand why we have asked for our privacy. This will be along road of healing for everyone. Ultimately, it was Sherri’s will to survive that brought her home. Thank you.”
Too often people see a story in their Facebook or Twitter feeds and forget that there are real people involved, that the story is not a reality TV episode where the “characters” have willingly given up their privacy. The last thing Sherri Papini and her loved ones need to think about right now is what the faceless hordes think about her ordeal.