Woman Sentenced to 18 Months for Kidnapping Hoax


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Sherri Papini, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after lying about being abducted by two Hispanic women in 2016.

In 2016, Papini claimed to have been kidnapped by two women while out jogging. After being gone for 22 days, Papini was found on Interstate 5, about 150 miles away from her home in Yolo County, CA. 

Papini had bruises and a broken nose and was branded on her shoulder. After analyzing DNA evidence and utilizing a polygraph test, Shasta Co. Detectives found that these were all self-inflicted wounds, as a cover-up for Papini’s attempt of running away. 

After the alleged kidnapping, DNA evidence found on Papini was linked back to her ex-boyfriend James Reyes. Reyes was called in for a polygraph test for his involvement in the abduction. On Aug. 13, 2020, Shasta Co. Sherriff’s Office called in Papini and her husband, Keith Papini, to discuss the DNA conclusions. 

During the interrogation, Shasta Co. Detectives pulled apart Papini’s story following the DNA evidence, explaining, “We talked to everyone around him (Reyes). We have the rental agreements, phone rental and car agreements.”

According to detectives, “The reason why you can describe the room is that you stayed in the room in the dark for hours, for days on end. The reason why you lost so much weight is because you stopped eating. The reason why you got a rash on your arm is because you cleaned his house. The reason why the brand is because he (Reyes) went to the store, bought the brand-new tools and branded you. The reason why your nose was broken is because of a hockey stick.” The detectives continued, “I know all these things and I know there was no sex. I know all of that because he passed a polygraph test that said it’s not abduction. She asked me to come get her.” 

After being discredited, Papini held her head in her hands and cried, unwilling to accept that the police figured out her scheme. Police added that they collected blonde hairs that matched Papini’s from Reyes’ room.

Papini’s sentencing was on Sept. 19, 2022, for pleading guilty to mail fraud and lying to the police. She will serve 18 months in prison, and will pay $309,902 in restitution; the punishment was created to fit the negative impact she made on the community who tried to find her.

NBC News reported, “(The judge) included law enforcement officers who searched for her, the community that believed her for four years, those who lived in fear because of her fake story of being abducted by two Hispanic women and the Latino community that was falsely viewed with suspicion.”

Papini will begin her sentence on Nov. 8 in the Sacramento Federal Prison.