Authorities investigating the alleged kidnap and torture of Sherri Papini fear some of the clues in her disappearance may have been planted.
The 34-year-old mother of two was allegedly abducted while jogging near her home in California on November 2.
Ms Papini’s iPhone and headphones were found on the Mountain Gate trail about 1.5km from her home in the days after she disappeared.
Her husband, Keith Papini, found the items using the ‘Find My iPhone’ app.
Detectives later confirmed strands of Ms Papini’s hair were tangled in the headphones.
Rumours surfaced suggesting the items had been “placed” rather than dropped or thrown.
Shasta County Police Sheriff Tom Bosenko has since confirmed the rumours during an interview with the Today Show.
Sheriff Bosenko said the items had been “neatly placed” rather than lost in a struggle.
“It appeared they had been set in some grass with the screen facing up, and then the earbuds to the phone were loosely coiled and appeared to be placed on the screen,” he said.
“It did somewhat appear to be that it was placed there purposely.”
The revelation sparked questions surrounding the possibility Ms Papini was kidnapped somewhere other than the jogging track, and that she might have known the people responsible.
Ms Papini vanished for 22 days before she was found on the side of a rural road in Yolo County on Thanksgiving Day.
She was found 240km from where she was last seen.
Ms Papini had allegedly suffered beatings and was found starved and chained.
She told police she had been ejected from an SUV by her captors, described as two Hispanic women armed with a gun.
Sheriff Bosenko told local media that evidence found at the second crime scene had been sent to a lab for testing.
It’s not clear what those items are.
Ms Papini claimed she was unable to provide detailed descriptions of her alleged kidnappers as they kept their faces covered most of the time.
Police said a sketch artist was having trouble creating a composite based on the limited information Ms Papini had provided.
Her husband Keith has been slammed for compromising the investigation, after he released a statement revealing details of his wife’s injuries, including branding marks.