Sherri Papini, 39, and Keith Papini, 38, have been married since 2009. They live in Redding, Shasta County, California, United States with their two children.
In December 2015, Sherri started being in contact with a former boyfriend who lives in Costa Mesa, California. On November 2, 2016, Keith became concerned when he returned from his job at Best Buy and could not find his wife at their Redding residence.
Sherri Papini fakes her kidnapping
From November 2-23, 2016, Sherri voluntarily stayed with her former boyfriend in Costa Mesa where she systematically harmed herself. On the same days, her two children were attending daycare while her family, her friends, authorities and volunteers were looking for her.
On November 24, 2016, Sherri reappeared on the side of County Road 17 near Interstate 5 in Yolo County, California. Bruised and bound by restraints, she claimed that she was freed by her captors, who were two Hispanic women.
When Sherri was hospitalized in Woodland, Yolo County, investigators collected male deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from her underwear and sweatpants that did not match Keith’s. From 2017 to 2021, she received more than $30,000 from the California Victim’s Compensation Board.
Sherri Papini’s ex-boyfriend fesses up
On March 19, 2020, the California Department of Justice’s Familial Search Committee voted to release to investigators the results of a DNA search using the sample taken from Sherri’s clothes on November 24, 2016. The search led to her ex-boyfriend in Costa Mesa.
When questioned by a federal agent and a detective from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in August 2020, Sherri maintained her claim that she was kidnapped on November 2, 2016 and she was advised that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent. Also in August 2020, her ex-boyfriend in Costa Mesa told investigators that she did fake her kidnapping.
Sherri Papini apologizes, pleads guilty
On March 3, 2022, Sherri was arrested and charged with making false statements to federal law enforcement officers and 34 counts of mail fraud. On April 12, 2022, she signed a plea deal.
“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me,” Sherri said in a statement through her attorney William Portanova obtained The Sacramento Bee. “I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”
On April 18, 2022, Sherri pleaded guilty to one count each of making false statements to federal law enforcement officers and mail fraud. She will be sentenced on July 11, 2022.