Sherri Papini Update: Kidnapping Survivor Elizabeth Smart Says Abducted California Mom Can ‘Never Go Back To Normal’

Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City, Utah, bedroom in 2002 at the age of 14, has spoken out about the Sherri Papini case, saying the California mother’s life will be different from now on.

Sherri went missing for about three weeks but was found on Thanksgiving Day on the side of a highway after flagging down a motorist.

Elizabeth, now 29 and an advocate of abuse victims, was held by her captor, Brian David Mitchell, for around nine months until her rescue by law enforcement. She spoke to ABC News about Sherri’s abduction, saying she will need to create a new notion of what is normal in order to heal from her ordeal.

She intimated that kidnapping victims typically find themselves in harrowing situations that may require them to act in a way they normally do not. Elizabeth said, “It’s really important for people to realize that when a victim comes back, whatever they did, they did it to survive,” ABC News reports.

Speaking to ABC News, Elizabeth further stated that she embraced certain strategies or thoughts to get her through her own kidnapping ordeal.

“I found my one thing that I could hold onto no matter what that my captors couldn’t take away or change, was my family… And I imagine the same would be true for Sherri. I would imagine that she held onto them. She survived for them.”

As far as any advice to Sherri regarding life from now on, Elizabeth said she would suggest the mother of two “focus on her family, focus on healing… You can never go back to normal. You have to find a new normal.”

Elizabeth was recovered in 2003 after the Sandy Police Department received several calls about three suspicious looking individuals who were carrying bedrolls while walking down a major street, KSL reports.

At the time, the entire country had been searching for Elizabeth, whose face had been plastered across all forms of media, so sightings of the missing girl were quite common. Nevertheless, after responding to the calls Sandy officers questioned the three people and quickly realized they were speaking with Elizabeth, her abductor, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, according to KSL.

One of the police officers noted later that Elizabeth was recognizable due to her “teeth… from the fliers and the smile…”

Elizabeth has subsequently spoken out about what took place while she was held captive, including that she was often chained to a tree, raped on a daily basis, starved, manipulated and brutalized, according to NBC News.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, an audio clip of Yolo County sheriff’s deputies and public safety dispatchers, Sherri was found chained and beaten when she was recovered.

Sherri’s husband, Keith Papini, has spoken publicly about his wife’s condition after being recovered, saying when he reunited wife at the hospital, he was shocked at her appearance. Keith said Sherri had bruises covering her face, her long blond hair had been chopped off, and she had been branded in some way, according to Heavy.

Authorities are now focused on searching for Sherri’s abductors, who Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko stated are Hispanic women and speak Spanish, according to ABC 10 News. The younger suspect is described as having a thick accent, long curly hair, thin eyebrows, and pierced ears, while the older suspect had straight black hair with gray sections, and thick eyebrows. The Sheriff also said Sherri informed authorities the two women’s faces were covered most of the time.

Anyone with information regarding Sherri Papini’s case is urged to call authorities at 530-245-6540, or the Major Crimes Unit at 530-245-6135. Tips can also be emailed to

[Featured Image by Rick Bowmer/Associated Press]

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