A woman named Christine Everson believes she spotted a "scared" Sherri Papini with two men at a truck rest stop days before she was found beaten and chained on the side of a road in Yolo County, California, around 4:30 a.m. Thanksgiving.
Everson told the Daily Mail that she saw a blonde woman resembling Papini at the Travel Center stop on the outskirts of Redding, California, at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 22. For a full breakdown of Papini's frightening and mysterious disappearance, watch the video above.
“My husband, my son and I were getting ready to go out of town and were filling up the car. It was dark and I looked over and thought, ‘Why are those men going back and forth from the truck and the woman isn’t?’ You know a woman always wants to take a potty break and look what’s in the store. We were there for 20 minutes, pumping fuel and whatnot, and my husband was like, ‘What are you doing?’” she recounted. “I saw this blonde lady in a blue pickup truck about 10 yards away from where we were parked and I kind of did a double take. I said, ‘This looks like Sherri Papini here,’ so I walked over, the guys had left the car, I walked over and her window was down a little.”
Everson explained to the Daily Mail that she thought the woman might be Papini since she had seen a lot of the news stories on television covering her disappearance.
“She was blonde and very pretty, and I thought it could definitely be her, she was the right age,” she recalled. “I obviously haven’t seen Sherri in person so I couldn’t be 100 percent, but it was a close enough resemblance that I couldn’t just drive away and have that question mark in my mind.”
However, the woman ignored Everson when she was approached. “I said, ‘You look like that woman who was abducted here in Redding, are you OK?’” Everson told the Daily Mail. “She never answered me, she didn’t answer yes, she didn’t answer no, she just looked at me. And I said, ‘Are you being held against your will? Do you need me to call 911 right now?’ And again she didn’t answer.”
Still, Everson — who is part of a local anti-sex trafficking coalition — tried to help. ‘Sex trafficking in this area is getting very big, so I was thinking that’s what’s happening here,” she continued. “I said, ‘I’d be willing to meet you in there and we can make arrangements for you if you are being trafficked, or there is a phone number in there and we have safe houses here in Redding.’ She said, ‘Thanks.’ That’s all she said to me and put her head down. Something wasn’t right.”
Eventually, Everson, marketing director of Air Shasta Rotor & Wing in Redding, left the rest stop and called the police. “We left before they left. I gave myself about five minutes down the road before I called the police,” she said. “I gave them the number of the car and a description.”
Everson doesn’t know if her tip aided police in their search for Papini. As previously reported, Sherri’s husband, Keith Papini, reported his wife missing from their Northern California home when she didn't come back following a jog November 2.
Sherri was supposed to pick up their children, ages 2 and 4, from daycare that day. She was found 22 days later. Authorities are searching for two armed Hispanic women as the investigation continues.
Keith issued a lengthy statement to Good Morning America November 29 regarding his wife’s abduction.
"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," Keith said, adding that Sherri was “emaciated” and only weighed 87 pounds. "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."
Though some people believe that Sherri’s story is a hoax, authorities told ABC News that there was "no reason to disbelieve" her account. In his statement to GMA, Keith acknowledged the hoax rumors, which he described as “exhausting and disgusting.”
"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," Keith said. "We are a very private family who do not use social media outlets prior to this grotesque tragedy. My love for my wife took precedence, and it was clear we had to be exposed in ways we never would have been comfortable with."
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