Crime

Disturbing Links Between Sherri Papini And Tera Smith

| by Zara Zhi

On Nov. 2, Sherri Papini, a mother of two young children, mysteriously disappeared while jogging in her neighborhood in Redding, California.

Sherri’s story eerily parallels that of Tera Smith, who vanished on Aug. 22, 1998, at the age of 16 in Redding. Coincidentally, Tera also vanished while jogging and was a former classmate of Sherri's.

The two blond women went to the same high school in the 1990s, where Tera was a grade above Sherri. When Sherri was in fifth grade, she even auditioned for the same role as Tera's sister in a school play, according to ABC News.

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Tera was never found and her disappearance still baffles experts and authorities. Several days after Sherri vanished, her husband Keith Papini, contacted Tera's father, Terry Smith, for guidance.

“Keith came to me, and we spoke for about an hour,” Terry told People. “I just told him to stay strong for his kids and not assume law enforcement has the answers and to push them."

He added: “It was obvious Keith was torn up, and I believe he was confident he’d get his wife back.”

Sherri’s case “brought back some very vivid memories and our hearts went out to Keith and his kids,” Terry says. “We know how it feels. That hopelessness and having nothing to go on is familiar.”

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Sherri was jogging less than 3 miles from where Tera vanished. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told People that his investigators “have not developed any evidence the two cases are linked.”

But Bosenko did admit to ABC News “it was on the investigators’ mind. In fact, there is a resemblance of Tera Smith and Mrs. Papini, which made it maybe even a little bit more eerie.”

Sherri was found alive on Thanksgiving morning, dumped on the side of a road. She had been badly beaten and was chained when she was found. Her case is a suspected kidnapping.

Keith had received a phone call from police, who had picked Sherri up, and heard his wife screaming on the other end. He later saw her at the hospital where she was taken for treatment.

"I -- I just ran past everybody and I, you know, threw open the curtain and she was there in -- in a bed. And her poor face," he told ABC News. "And I just hugged her. I just held her. I felt like I hugged her for, like, 20 minutes.”

Sources: People, ABC News / Photo credit: Papani Family via The Huffington Post, ABC News

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