Sherri Papini’s husband claimed he was “in shock” when he discovered his wife had staged a kidnapping after learning that Sherri Papini had made up her alleged 2016 kidnapping and had instead been hiding out with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California.
Keith Papini told detectives when she was absent, “I’m the idiot husband that stayed around the whole time.” Last Friday’s two-hour broadcast 20/20, “The Vanishing Act,” featured a video of Keith’s conversation with investigators.
“Now you are telling me, ‘OK, you can go home now,’ Well, do you think I want her anywhere around my kids or around me at all at this point?” Keith said to the investigators. “I don’t know what the next stages of this are,” an investigator told Keith.
Detectives showed Sherri Papini evidence collected from her ex-boyfriend James, who was unaware of her plan and said she came to him for a place to stay, proving she lied about her 2016 kidnapping. #ABC2020 https://t.co/vnQqjOnzjY pic.twitter.com/QtaysQik3F
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) October 1, 2022
“It’s not us together,” Keith responded. “I can tell you that much. I’m in shock.” On November 2, 2016, Sherri Papini disappeared without a trace.
About 150 miles south of her home in Redding, the California mother of two was discovered famished, bruised, and chained at the waist on the side of a lonely Yolo County road.
She informed police that two Hispanic women had kidnapped her at gunpoint, abused her brandished her, and locked her up in a bedroom for over three weeks.
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People in the Redding community who had spent days looking for her came together to welcome her back, including her family and children who were then 2 and 4. However, after looking into her alleged kidnapping, investigators discovered it was all a lie.
Investigators confronted her but initially denied any involvement. On March 3, federal agents detained Papini, who later entered a guilty plea to mail fraud charges and lying to a federal agent.
Keith requested custody of the couple’s two children when he filed for divorce in April, claiming that her fake kidnapping devastated him.
“The whole problem started in November 2016 when Sherri left our children at a daycare and simply disappeared. Both I and, especially, our children were traumatized by her disappearance and I spent much time and money trying to find my wife,” he wrote in a declaration for the Shasta County Family Court, obtained by the Sacramento Bee and the Associated Press.
Papini was given an 18-month jail term last month and ordered to pay $309,902 in restitution to the California Victim Compensation Board, the Social Security Administration, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI for damages sustained due to her lies.
During the sentence, U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb referred to Papini as a “manipulator.” Papini expressed her regret for her actions in a handwritten statement before being given her punishment.
“I stand before you humbled by the court. I’m so sorry to the many people who have suffered because of me. I thank you all,” she said, the Record Searchlight reported.
“I am guilty of lying and dishonor. I trust in this court … and I trust in you,” she said. “What was done cannot be undone. I am choosing to humbly accept all responsibility.”
In a statement to PEOPLE after Sherri’s sentencing, Keith said, “The events of the past two months have been shocking and devastating. My current focus is on moving on and doing everything I can to provide my two children with as normal, healthy and happy of a life as possible.”
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