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Sherri Papini Faked Her Kidnapping 7 Years Ago to Be With a Boyfriend. Her Husband Finally Speaks Out.

Sherri Papini has never explained why she lied about her kidnapping.
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Law&Crime Network
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Law&Crime Network

A woman faked her kidnapping seven years ago, and now her husband is speaking out about the case.

Sherri Papini from California sent her neighborhood into a frenzy when she disappeared on November 2, 2016, The New York Post reported.

Her husband Keith Papini, reported her missing after realizing that she had neither returned home nor shown up at their children's daycare.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Martin Lopez
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Martin Lopez

Sherri Papini's belongings, like her purse and jewelry, were in the residence she shared with her husband and children. Investigators began an extensive search in order to get the mother of two back home.

On November 26, Sherri Papini showed up 150 miles away from her home, The New York Post reported.


Sherri Papini was bound with restraints at the time of discovery, The New York Post reported. She was located by a driver and was covered with bruises.

She shared with authorities that she had been kidnapped by two masked Hispanic women at gunpoint, claiming the mystery pair held her captive for three weeks.

Sherri Papini's blonde hair had been cut, and she had a brand burned into her right shoulder, authorities shared at that time. Both male and female DNA had been collected from her body and clothes. 

During the investigation, Keith Papini willingly agreed to a lie detector test and submitted his electronic devices for analysis, The New York Post reported.

Keith Papini was overjoyed to be back with his wife, but after hearing her story he started to have doubts. However, he still supported his wife during her rehabilitation.


“There were many things that just didn’t add up, but I wanted to support my wife,” Keith Papini admitted to Fox News Digital.

“If you can’t trust your wife, who can you trust? I just kept saying to myself, ‘I’m going to do everything for my wife.’ I was led to believe that she was happy with us and that she didn’t want any other life with anyone else… I just wanted to support her at all times that we were together. With that being said… I’ll never know all of the truth,” he noted.

Sherri Papini gave a detailed description of how she claimed the kidnapping went down. She also collaborated with an FBI sketch artist to create a drawing of her alleged perpetrators.

Investigators later discovered that for 22 days, Sherri Papini was not with the Hispanic women as she claimed, but with her ex-boyfriend, the outlet reported.

Shasta County Sheriff Sergeant Kyle Wallace and Captain Brian Jackson, who both worked on the case, already harbored suspicions about Sherri Papini due to what they believed were her over-the-top theatrics during the investigation, NBC News reported.

Police discovered a tuft of hair at the site where Sherri Papini claimed she was kidnapped. She stated that she tore out her own hair on purpose in order to leave evidence behind to alert her husband that something was wrong.

"Yet when you look at just the hair alone, in hindsight, it was theatrical and not really what fit what she said in her story," Wallace said, NBC reported.

"I think, ultimately, being able to look at each piece of evidence now with the clarity of what was going on, not just in the moments, but the drama or the theatrics that Sherri brought with every step of this investigation was really part of the undoing," Wallace noted.


Sherri Papini was in her ex-boyfriend's residence when authorities were searching for her, Fox News Digital reported. The injuries on her body were self-inflicted to back up her story, according to police.

According to a court filing, investigators learned the DNA found on Sherri Papini's body belonged to her ex-boyfriend. The man admitted that Sherri Papini stayed with him, but he claimed they had no physical relationship.

The authorities later tracked the locations of two prepaid cell phones Sherri Papini and her ex-boyfriend used to communicate with each other, Fox News Digital reported.

The ex-boyfriend's story was corroborated through the tracking data, according to a 55-page affidavit filed in court to support the criminal charges. 

The ex-boyfriend's cousin shared with authorities that he had seen Sherri Papini twice, unrestrained in the man's apartment, Fox News Digital reported. Records collected by the police also showed that the ex-boyfriend drove Sherri Papini back to North California.

In March 2022, Sherri Papini was arrested on the charges of making false statements to federal agents and mail fraud, Fox News Digital reported. After a month, she submitted a guilty plea, formally accepting that the whole kidnapping was a hoax.

"When a young mother went missing in broad daylight, a community was filled with fear and concern," U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said in a statement at the time, Fox News Digital reported.

"Ultimately, the investigation revealed that there was no kidnapping and that time and resources that could have been used to investigate actual crime, protect the community, and provide resources to victims were wasted," Talbert said.

Keith Papini could never have anticipated that Sherri Papini would create such a plan, Fox News Digital reported. "There was no part of me that ever thought she would fake injuries and have this whole hoax to the extent that she did," he shared.

"I could not foresee that. But I did think we had a happy life. We do have amazing children," he said.

Keith Papini believes that his wife's actions were a result of her enjoying the sympathy that comes with being the victim. I do believe the core thing would be attention," he said, adding, "I think she likes it when people feel for her and look at her as a victim… at anyone’s cost. To be honest, I don’t think she’s capable of seeing what she did and the lives that it affected, the ripple effect, how much pain she caused so many people."

The years following the purported kidnapping were hard on the family, Fox News Digital reported. At first, Keith Papini was protecting his children from the "kidnappers," but after Sherri Papini's confession, he was shielding his children from further scrutiny.


"We lived in a sense of fear that somebody was after us," he recalled. "If the kids were outside playing, and they saw anybody, it was almost like they were taught to run inside. There’s a part of me that knows that those six years of their childhood were almost stolen away by Sherri."

During her court hearing, Sherri Papini did not explain why she went through with the kidnapping plan, KRCR reported.

Her attorney, William Portanova, believes that even Sherri Papini herself was not entirely sure of her motivation. Portanova said he believes that a “very complicated mental health situation” was at play.

In September 2022, Sherri Papini was sentenced to 18 months in prison, Fox News Digital reported. She was released in early 2023.

In April 2022, Keith Papini filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences, TODAY reported. 

Keith Papini appears in a new true-crime docuseries on Hulu, "Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini," to share his side of the story.

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