Sherri Papini: Redding woman admits to faking 2016 kidnapping, takes plea deal
Above: Undated file photo of Sherri Papini
Sherri Papini of Redding has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal agents after staging her own kidnapping and fraudulently collecting victim assistance money during that time.
Papini, now 39, initially went missing on November 2, 2016. When she reappeared on Thanksgiving Day three weeks later, in chains and with numerous physical injuries, she claimed to have been abducted while out jogging and held captive by two mask-wearing, Spanish-speaking assailants who tortured and branded her, the latter at the behest of a “buyer” whom they claimed was a cop. Papini further alleged that law enforcement had even been involved in her initial kidnapping, hence her reluctance to contact authorities.
It has since come to light that Papini had actually been staying with an ex-boyfriend in southern California, and had collected over $30,000 in victim assistance money. DNA collected from Papini’s clothing upon her return was found to match that of the ex-boyfriend, which was when her claims were first called into question.
The ex-boyfriend ultimately told investigators that he’d picked Papini up in Redding at her request, and that the two had been using burner phones to communicate in secret as early as December 2015. Papini, who is married and a mother of two, was also found to have been communicating with and dating two other men. During an analysis of Papini’s mobile phone, investigators found two phone numbers stored under female names that actually belong to men that Papini had been seeing.
One of the men, who’d dated Papini for several years, reportedly told investigators that she was “attention-hungry” and liked to make up stories. Elsewhere in the court complaint and affidavit, officials mention a blog post allegedly written by Papini in 2007, under the name Sherri Graeff, in which she claimed to have been regularly targeted by Hispanic bullies during her youth for being white and “drug-free”. She also allegedly wrote, “Being white is more than just being aware of my skin, but of standing behind Skinheads – who are always around, in spirit, as well – and having pride for my country” on the same blog.
Per the court documents, Papini has admitted to the kidnapping hoax and has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI and one count of mail fraud. She faces up to five years in prison and an up-to-$250,000 fine in connection to the false statements, and up to 20 years in prison and a second possible $250,000 fine for the mail fraud. Her next court date has yet to be set.
Full court documents are available below:
Complaint and affidavit (PDF document)