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What’s Next for Sherri Papini — with Her Alleged Abductors Still on the Run?

A young mother vanished during a morning jog near her California home — and was found 22 days later on the side of the highway. As she recovers, investigators push to figure out what really happened. Subscribe now to PEOPLE, or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday, for much more on this case.

Sherri Papini, the mom-of-two who authorities say was kidnapped and held captive for 22 days, is living at an undisclosed location and reportedly may never return to her home near the trail in Redding, California, where she was abducted while jogging on Nov. 2.

That doesn’t surprise John Kelly, a noted serial killer profiler.

“This is going to take an awful lot of therapy, an anti-depressant, probably anti-anxiety medication,” he tells PEOPLE. “It will be very hard for her to navigate these traumatic waters.”

“It’s only by an act of God that they let her go,” Kelly says. “I have a hard time understanding that as sadistic as these are — and I’ve hunted many of them — would let someone live.”

Though no arrests have been made, investigators continue their pursuit of anyone connected to Papini’s abduction. Authorities have reportedly said there is not yet enough evidence to officially rule anyone out as a suspect.

“She can identify this perpetrator,” Kelly tells PEOPLE. As he explains, “If they know where she lives, she will always worry.”

Papini was found on the side of a highway Thanksgiving morning 150 miles from her home. Her husband and officials have said she was beaten, branded and chained, her long blonde hair chopped off.

RELATED:  Investigator Believes Sex Trafficking Could Be Motive Behind Sherri Papini Kidnapping Case

She told police she was abducted by two armed Hispanic women — one with curly hair, one with straight hair — who covered their faces and spoke mostly Spanish.


Her being branded, Kelly tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday, is a sign of “shaming and degrading” that routinely occurs in sex trafficking rings. “This is a sadistic situation, and she somehow was able to convince them to let her go,” he says.

“I give her a lot of credit to be able to survive this ordeal.”

While Papini has not spoken publicly about her captivity, her friends and family have rallied around her, thankful for her return. Her husband, Keith Papini, has said the idea of the alleged abductors still being free is “terrifying” — but that’s not all he thinks about.

“My family is with me now,” he said. “Right now I am happy my wife is back. I don’t have to raise my kids without her.”