In the 22 days that Sherri Papini was missing, the internet was filled with rumors and theories about her disappearance. Was she really abducted or did she run away from an apparently picture-perfect life? Were the Papinis involved with white supremacist groups and did that have anything to do with her disappearance? Was she taken by sex traffickers? Did Keith Papini murder her? Those were all just a few of the theories.
But since she was found, chained and beaten, on the side of I-5 over a hundred miles away from her home on Thanksgiving morning, the story has only become more bizarre.
As we reported last week, Keith issued an emotional and detailed statement about the physical state his wife was in when he first saw her, and claimed that he and his family were never much for social media or being in the public eye, so all of this attention was difficult on them, and he asked for privacy during her recovery.
But then Keith and self-proclaimed hostage negotiator Cameron Gamble appeared on an hour-long 20/20 special about the case – not exactly the thing people looking for privacy would do.
Keith Papini stated in the interview that the family had “temporarily relocated” while Sherri recuperates. The New York Post confirmed with neighbors that the Papinis were not there, though they had seen Keith driving a new truck last Thursday. He said it was “a ‘friend’s’ and he was using it to stay under the radar and hidden from people who may be trying to harm his wife.”
And, new information concerning Cameron Gamble, the hostage negotiator who claimed to be representing an anonymous donor who was offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to Sherri’s return, has come to light. The Daily Beast has researched public documents and websites related to Gamble, and the information they found shows he’s not exactly who he claimed to be.
Gamble described himself as “an international kidnap and ransom consultant,” and claims to have negotiated hostage releases all over the world. His companies sell anti-abduction courses, citing his military training and expertise.
Here are a few of the discrepancies the Daily Beast found between what Gamble claimed and what records showed. Gamble:
- Claimed he “has been training the U.S. Military Special Ops community on survival tactics since shortly after September 11, 2001,” yet didn’t enlist in the Air Force until 2002. He served for three years and was discharged at the rank of Senior Airman.
- “Cites his Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training in online biographies” but the only training the Air Force confirmed was the Combat Survival Training Course which all airmen receive.
- Claimed expertise in training law enforcement agencies to comply with a DoD directive regarding interrogation techniques, when DoD directives don’t affect local law enforcement.
- Said his Catalyst Strategic Group was accredited by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, but no such federal department exists.
- Advertised his organization Project TAKEN, an abduction-prevention company aimed at training Christian missionaries, as a 501(c)(3) but no records of that status exist.
In the Papini case, Gamble appeared out of nowhere with a reward from an anonymous donor, though no ransom demand had been demanded and law enforcement was working day and night pursuing leads. He was at odds with law enforcement, as the reward was offered only for Sherri’s return, no strings attached (such as as giving information on the abductor(s)). He appeared on show after show, and registered the domain name CameronGamble.com on November 20, while Sherri was missing. And, he used his time with 20/20 to essentially create an infomercial for his services.
And now he’s gone silent. Gamble would not return The Daily Beast’s email or telephone inquiries.
There’s no word from Shasta County investigators on any new developments.