Sherri Papini Branded: Expert Says Cult Could Have Been Behind Abduction Of California Mom

Sherri Papini’s strange 3-week disappearance is being questioned by many, with some speculating the condition in which the California mother was found, branded and bound, could indicate she was kidnapped by a cult.

On Thanksgiving Day at around 4:30 a.m., Sherri, 34, was found on the side of a highway after flagging down a motorist. She vanished on the afternoon of November 2 after she headed out for a jog near her home in Redding.

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

Not long after Sherri was reunited with her husband, Keith Papini, he spoke out about her shocking appearance. Keith, in a letter obtained by People, wrote that Sherri’s face was “covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of her repeated beatings. The bridge of her nose [was] broken… She has been branded and I could feel the rise of her scabs under my fingers.”

Keith also noted that Sherri appeared emaciated, weighing only 87 pounds, and her long blond hair had been chopped off. He further wrote that Sherri’s captors threw her from a vehicle while she had a bag over her head, and a chain around her waist that was also attached to her wrists, according to People.

Sherri was able to give authorities some information about her captors, who Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko announced are described as two Hispanic women who speak Spanish, according to ABC 10 News. One suspect is described as being a younger female with a thick accent, long curly hair, thin eyebrows, and pierced ears. The older female suspect had straight black hair with gray sections in it, and thick eyebrows. The Sheriff also said Sherri informed authorities the women’s faces were covered most of the time.

The television news magazine 20/20 featured Sherri’s case on a December 2 episode. Former FBI profiler Brad Garrett said during the show that he believes Sherri may have been kidnapped by a cult. Garrett said he, unlike some experts who have posited Sherri may have been abducted by sex traffickers, thinks a cult is more likely the culprit in this instance.

Garrett said that cults often have methods of indoctrination that are similar to what happened to Sherri. He stated, “You cut their hair, you beat them… you’re really talking about behavior of what a cult or an extremist group would use to break somebody down…” Garrett noted that sex traffickers would probably not want to damage Sherri’s appearance by injuring her face or starving her.

Psychology Today reported that “Cult activity is far more common than you might imagine…” and indicated that a “destructive cult” is a label given to “groups that use manipulative techniques and mind control to heighten suggestibility and subservience” with the aim of having “total control over members.” Sleep and food deprivation can be part of this process.

[Image by Grinvalds/Think Stock by Getty Images]

Additionally, ritual abuse, which can be physical, may take place over time. Psychology Today reported that the Ritual Abuse Task Force of L.A. County Commission for Women defines this type of abuse noting the “physical abuse is severe, sometimes including torture and killing… It includes mind control techniques which convey to the victim a profound terror of the cult-members… most victims are in a state of terror, mind control and dissociation.”

[Image by SI Photography/Think Stock by Getty Images]

It is still unclear who kidnapped Sherri and why they did so, however, her condition when found and Garrett’s professional opinion indicate cult involvement could be one possible explanation regarding Sherri’s bizarre abduction.

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 chai2070/Think Stock by Getty Images]

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