Sherri Papini: Mom who lied about being kidnapped by two Hispanic women for 22 days is arrested
The prosecutors on Thursday, March 3, said Papini had made up the kidnapping story to stay with an ex-boyfriend during her disappearance
A woman from California, Sherri Papini, has been arrested on Thursday, March 3, for falsely claiming that she was kidnapped for 22 days by two Hispanic women in 2016. The prosecutors charged the 39-year-old woman for lying to federal agents about being kidnapped and defrauding the state's victim compensation board of $30,000.
Papini disappeared on November 2, 2016, reportedly while she was out jogging a mile from her home in Redding, California. She was found tied up, with a broken nose and a shaved head on Thanksgiving Day, November 24. Before she turned up, law enforcement officers had spent weeks searching for her in California and nearby states. The mother-of-two at the time told the authorities that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, even providing descriptions to an FBI sketch artist.
The prosecutors on Thursday, March 3, said, in reality the woman was staying with a former boyfriend nearly 600 miles away from her home in Orange County, in Southern California. She later hurt herself to back up her false statements. "When a young mother went missing in broad daylight, a community was filled with fear and concern", said the U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert. "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's office confirmed that Papini doesn't have an attorney yet because she was just arrested. Also, her first court appearance has not been set yet. Papini was still lying about kidnapping in August 2020 when she was interviewed by a federal agent and Shasta County sheriff´s detective, the charges allege. Even after the detectives showed her evidence indicating she had not been abducted and warned her that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent, she still made false statements. Police investigating the kidnapping had discovered that male DNA found on Papini's clothing did not belong to husband Keith and also revealed that she had been texting another man in Detroit, Michigan just days before she went missing.
The charges also allege that she was reimbursed more than $30,000 by the California Victim´s Compensation Board based on the false story. The Board compensated her for visits to her therapist and for the ambulance ride to the hospital after she was found near Sacramento. According to the police, the woman faces mail fraud charge related to the reimbursement requests that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and maximum five-year sentence for lying to a federal officer.
On the day she went missing, her husband Keith said he had become concerned about her whereabouts when he discovered that she hadn't picked the kids up from the daycare. He said, "I couldn't find her, so I called the day care to see what time she picked up the kids. The kids were never picked up so I got freaked out, I hit the Find My iPhone app thing. I found her phone; it's got like hair ripped out of it, like, in the headphones." At that time, Keith, said that his wife would never leave him or their children voluntarily, also launched an appeal – a GoFundMe account raising close to $50,000 to pay for his wife's search.
Skepticism about why Papini disappeared emerged after it was revealed that she had previously run away as a teenager. According to the Sacramento Bee, uncovered documents from 13 years ago outlined how Papini's mother, Loretta Graeff, called police asking for help after her daughter was allegedly self-harming and trying to blame the wounds on her. In 2000, Richard Graeff said his daughter "burglarized his residence," before Papini's sister Sheila Koester, "alleged her back door had been kicked in and she believed Papini was the suspect", the Bee reported.