HomeNewsSherri Papini Pleads Guilty for Faking Kidnapping, Faces Imprisonment and Fine

Sherri Papini Pleads Guilty for Faking Kidnapping, Faces Imprisonment and Fine

Sherri Papini, the woman accused of faking her own abduction in 2016, officially pleaded guilty yesterday. She faces a sentence along with a fine of more than $300,000 for mail fraud and false statements to federal police. Read on to know more.

Confession to the 2016 Hoax

Papini, 39 became a local celebrity after faking her kidnapping. A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $49,000 to help this family. Her abduction led to a frantic search and drew international headlines.

Papini was found with bruises and rashes on her body on Thanksgiving after a three-week across California. She even told the authorities that she was kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women and provided a description to an FBI sketch artist. Well, all this was staged with the help of her ex-boyfriend.

Papini appeared in Federal Court yesterday via a video meeting along with her defense attorney William Portanova. The presiding Senior U.S. District Judge William Shubb was hearing her case and asked if she was kidnapped. Papini replied, “No, your honor.”

The judge also asked her about lying to authorities and she answered yes. Papini was seen wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue while confessing to her crime. The judge even asked her how she felt today. Papini said, “I’m sorry, your honor. I am sad. I feel very sad, your honor…”

Papini’s defense attorney released a statement wherein Papini said:

“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behaviour 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. I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”

About the fake Kidnapping

Sherri Papini reappeared after a three-week search across California. She had vanished in the dark. After the reappearance, everyone took a sigh of relief. Well, she had already gained international sympathy.

She was found covered in bruises, burns and rashes 150 miles south of Redding. She had a chain around her waist and clamps around her wrists. Her blonde hair was chopped off. She had even been branded on the right shoulder.

Papini explained to authorities that she was abducted at gunpoint during her jog and held captive by two armed and masked Hispanic women, one in their 20s and 30s and the other somewhere between 40 and 50, who spoke Spanish. She even provided minute details about their behaviour.

In reality, the whole hoax was staged by Papini herself along with her boyfriend who helped her with these injuries. She even stayed with him when she vanished. He confessed to helping her with some injuries.


Papini’s ex-boyfriend admitted that he helped her run away and put her into his two-bedroom apartment in Costa Mesa. She told her boyfriend that she had been abused by her husband.

During her stay, she “purposefully tried to lose weight”, chopped her faith and created injuries including hitting and burning herself. However, she asked her ex-boyfriend to mark her with burning wood. On Thanksgiving, she said she wanted to go home.

A word from the Sheriff

Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Captain Brian Jackson, who was one of the lead detectives on this notorious case stated that he felt real pressure for finding the 34-year-old Papini who disappeared while jogging. In an interview, he stated:

“I shop here, I’ve lived here all my life. There was a weight, for sure, because people wanted answers, and we had a community to protect. There wasn’t a day or a week or a meeting, family get together, or department stuff that myself, as well as many other detectives that were known for being on this case [were asked], Hey, what’s going on with Sherri’s case? And it was like, We’re working it and hopefully, we’ll get some answers. It was a daily reminder.” So how did the authorities find the evidence? Read below.

The DNA comes in as Evidence…

Police authorities were unable to trace Papini and there was growing pressure from the neighbourhood and media. However, the spring of 2017 came as hope when investigators found a piece of evidence that led them to the shocking conclusion that Sherri wasn’t kidnapped but she ran away. Little did they know that she had staged a crime for money.

According to a 53-page charging document released last week by a U.S. District Court, the telltale clue came in the form of a male DNA on the sweatpants and underwear that Papini wore when she was found on Thanksgiving in 2016.

The police were shocked to know that the DNA did not belong to any female abductor. The DNA did not even match with her husband. Jackson was determined that this piece of evidence will solve the ongoing mystery.

Jackson stated, “Once we had the DNA, I knew we’d be able to find something, and I just kept telling our guys and our ladies, be patient it’s going to happen and we just kept pushing on.”

In 2019, they decoded the story of the DNA when they requested a “familial DNA” search. It is a technique that involves offender DNA databanks for a father, son or brother of an unknown perpetrator.  In 2020, investigators were notified that a potential match has been found and belonged to Papini’s ex-boyfriend.

Rest is history. Papini has officially confessed to her crime. She faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statement charge, a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the mail fraud count.

Presently, Papini’s plea agreement requires her to pay roughly $300,000 in restitution to agencies, including the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. Papini is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, 2022. She has betrayed her two children and husband, Keith Papini. Moreover, she has betrayed the whole legal system.

Papini sets an infamous example of the mockery that the authorities face at the hands of a civilian who can go to any extent to fulfil their desires. The police authorities spent a significant amount of time, money and effort in searching for her when they could have focused on more important cases. She is nothing but a shame to society.

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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