Transcript for 911 call released in California mom disappearance
Reporter: It’s every family’s worst nightmare. A wife and mother goes out for a run and disappears. Without a trace. Sherri papini was missing for 22 days. Her distraught husband Keith appealing to the public for health. I’m coming, honey. I’m trying, I’m doing everything I can. And I love you. Reporter: Then, on Thanksgiving day, 2016 — Female needs medical attention, it’s going to be some sort of an assault. Reporter: Sherri was found alive on the side of a highway, battered, bruised, and branded. Long blond haircut short. These newly released sketches depict the two women papini claims were her sole abductors. But just this week a twist in the case. Unidentified male DNA found on her clothes. And the Shasta county sheriff’s office also revealing papini was texting with a male acquaintance from Michigan just days prior to her disappearance in an attempt to meet. That man has since been cleared by police. But the new details are raising new questions about what actually went down. The fact that she was trying to meet up with another man shortly before she went missing leads to questions about why and where was she going and could it have any relationship to this? Up to this point, they were this loving couple who had nothing in their life that would lead to anything happening. Reporter: The childhood sweethearts tied the knot in 2009, looking like a fairy tale couple. She, like a princess. He, like a prince. Their photos together seem as if they’re ripped from the pages of a glossy magazine. I was just head over heels for her and I knew I wanted to marry this girl. 911, what is your emergency? Reporter: In this 911 call released just this week, we hear Keith just moments after discovering his wife had vanished from their northern California home. So — I just got home from work, and my wife wasn’t there which is unusual — Reporter: Sounding remarkably composed. He tells the operator about the last he’d heard from her. She sent me a text asking me if I was coming home for lunch, and I said sorry, long day. That was the last. She never spoke to her on the phone or any other — Reporter: He tells the dispatcher his wife hadn’t picked up their kids from day care. Found her phone on the ground. Telling me something happened to her is the way I’m looking at it. Then there was hair like in the headphones. Like ripped off — Yeah, I know, I understand. I understand. Okay, I’m sorry, I know you’re trying to keep me calm. Reporter: As the call goes on, Keith seems to unravel. Oh my god. I understand you’re freaking out a little bit. We want to make sure we get your kids. Reporter: I interviewed Keith papini just days after his wife was found. He recounted those harrowing weeks when she was still missing. I don’t think I ever lost hope, but it was really — it was eating away at me big-time. At no point did you think she may be dead? There was a moment where we were heading back after we did a few mile search. And — we look up and we start to see some birds circling. And I started walking and I just — went to my knees. And I thought, am I really — am I really — I came out here to look for my wife. Reporter: At first the couple’s two children didn’t even know their mother was missing. But Keith felt he couldn’t keep that terrible secret from their son Tyler. He knew something was up. And he said, dad, you can tell me anything. So I just said, son, you know — mommy went running and she didn’t come home and we’re all looking for her right now. She is considered at risk due to the suspicious circumstances. Reporter: There was sympathy for Keith, of course. But there was also plenty of skepticism. Police following standard procedure had to first consider him as a suspect. Your wife vanished. Uh-huh. But you’re also the prime suspect. I never — felt that. You never felt that? I didn’t. It never occurred to me at first that people would think it was me. Reporter: To try to clear any cloud of doubt, Keith papini demanded to take a polygraph test. He passed it. It was basically nine days before he was really cleared of suspicion. Yes. Why so long? We were going through investigating hundreds of tips, looking at cell phone data, cell tower data. Reporter: Then out of the blue, on Thanksgiving morning, Keith’s phone rang. I pick it up. It was my wife. Screaming in the background. Yelling my name. And a chp officer said, I need you to be calm, I need you to be calm. Are you panicked at first? Hearing her scream. I’m panicked but I’m happy. Because at this point, this is the first time I’ve heard her voice. I know she’s alive. Reporter: On the day she was found, investigators said they were only able to get the barest nugget from the traumatized Sherri. Which was two hispanic female afultz driving a dark SUV. Two hispanic females in a dark-colored SUV in the state of California is not much of a tip. No. It would be literally a needle in a haystack. Did she know the people she was with? No. Did she ever see them? I will share with you that their faces were always covered. I can tell you that there was guns involved. Reporter: According to Keith, Sherri said her alleged abductors, those two women, drove her about 2 1/2 hours nonstop that first day and said her kidnappers spoke Spanish most of the time. She literally lived through hell. The things she told me that she did — acting like she was talking to our kids. She told me a lot of times she took some piece of cloth and rolled it up like it was violet, she would rock it. She’s so strong. Reporter: Sherri hasn’t spoken publicly yet. The account of her release comes solely from what she has told police and her husband. She was bound. She had a chain around her waist. She had a bag over her head. They cut something to free her restraint that was holding her into the vehicle. Pushed her out. And drove away. Sherri had one free hand and took a bag off of her head. Reporter: Stranded in the middle of nowhere, Sherri felt her only chance at rescue was to flag a motorist down on the highway. That motorist called 911. 911, emergency? Reporter: Rescue workers raced to the scene, the silence of the early morning filling with sirens and the crackle of radio chatter. Unknown medical problem, it’s going to be northbound I-5, female needs medical attention. Reporter: Sherri was disoriented from whatb police say was 22 days in captivity. Keith raced to reunite with his wife, finding her in the hospital with bruises on her face and a cryptic symbol branded into her right shoulder. One of the officers braced me, kind of put his arm around me, he said — you know, prepare yourself. She’s alive and you’ve just got to be happy. They branded her. I just wanted to see her. So I just ran past everybody and I, you know, throw open the curtain, and she was there. Lying in the bed. And her poor face. And I just hugged her. I just held her. I felt like I hugged her for like 20 minutes. Reporter: In the months since Sherri’s safe return, investigators have revealed little about what they found. Until this week. In a new statement to ABC news, Keith said, we are hopeful that the release of additional information by law enforcement will expedite the capture of Sherri’s abductors. This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for our family. It’s clear the investigation here is not just focusing on finding the two women in the sketches. This investigation is also focused on getting more answers. Broadly. About how did this happen? And what exactly happened? Reporter: With each fresh clue, more puzzling questions. For “Nightline,” I’m Matt Gutman in Redding, California.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.