A California woman, who was the first to call 911 when she saw a terrified Sherri Papini waving down motorists on a desolate stretch of highway last year, is relieving the chilling moment she came upon the mother who was abducted several weeks before.
“She seemed frantic and desperate,” Alison Sutton told Inside Edition. “The thing that has haunted me the most about this was the look in her eyes.”
Sutton was driving on I-5 at about 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving last year when she came upon Papini, whose hands were bound. At the time, the mystery of the mom's three-week disappearance was captivating the nation.
Sutton returned to the scene with Inside Edition for the first time since she encountered Papini and said it was “a little overwhelming.”
“At night it's dark out here; it is black. There are no lights out here,” she said. “She was out in the cold in a T-shirt and I remember thinking, ‘She's got to be freezing because it was cold.”
Papini was battered and her long blond hair had been cut off. She was also emaciated, weighing about 85 pounds when she was discovered.
The woman dubbed, “Supermom,” told investigators that she'd been abducted by two mysterious women as she was jogging along a road near her home.
On Wednesday, nearly a year after her disappearance, authorities released a sketch of the suspects and shared the 911 call made by Papini’s husband, Keith right after she went missing.
Skepticism about her story has been widespread, but Sutton believes it was not a hoax, and feels terrible that she didn’t stop to comfort Papini.
Instead, she kept driving and called police on her cell phone.
“I would like to hug her and tell her that I’m sorry," Sutton said.
Police also say male and female DNA samples were recovered from Papini when she was rescued and the male DNA did not belong to her husband.
More eyebrows were raised when the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department investigating the case revealed that she and “a male acquaintance [from Michigan] were in an online/texting relationship and were trying to meet while he was in California on business, days before her disappearance.”
That man has since been ruled out as a suspect.