Sherri Papini kidnapping update: California woman’s family ‘appalled’ at arrest in fake kidnapping case

REDDING, Calif. — The family of a Northern California woman whose 2016 disappearance sparked an intense search and international headlines on Friday criticized the way they were arrested on charges of faking her own kidnapping.

Sherri Papini, 39, of Redding, was “ambushed” in front of her children on Thursday afternoon, according to her family.

She spent the night in the Sacramento County jail on charges of mail fraud and lying to a federal agent, and was arrested at a Friday afternoon court hearing on charges of danger and a risk of absconding.

Papini disappeared while jogging in 2016. Three weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, she turned up on a freeway about 150 miles from her home. She had a “burn” on her right shoulder, along with burns and bruises.

She described in great detail to police her kidnapping at gunpoint and abusive treatment at the hands of two “Hispanic women,” which sparked a hunt for her captors. It was all a lie, authorities said on Thursday. She was actually dating a former boyfriend in Southern California, they said, and beat herself up in support of their invention.

Her family’s statement did not address the veracity of the charges, but said the family was “confused by several aspects” of the charges. They also criticized the way she was taken into custody.

“We love Sherri and are appalled by the way law enforcement dramatically and needlessly raided her (Thursday) afternoon in front of her children,” the family said in the statement released by a publicist.

She would have come to the police station on request, the family said, “where this could have been handled more appropriately.”

Papini and her husband, Keith, have complied with investigators’ requests, the family said, “despite repeated attempts to unnecessarily pit them against each other, empty threats to publicly embarrass them, and other behavior that was unprofessional.”

Her attorney, Michael Borges, did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment after her first court appearance on Friday. Papini is expected for a court hearing on Tuesday to determine whether she can be released from custody.

The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office in Sacramento declined to comment, while the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately comment but previously said it had nothing more to say after charges were filed. All three authorities investigated the case.

Papini is accused of lying to a federal agent as recently as August 2020, when authorities said they confronted her with evidence she made up her story and warned that lying is a crime.

The mail fraud charges relate to the more than $30,000 she was reimbursed by the California Victim’s Compensation Board, including therapy “for anxiety and PTSD,” according to a court filing.

It carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, while lying to a federal officer carries a maximum sentence of five years.

A 55-page affidavit in court supporting her charges says a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $49,000 to help the family. There are no fees associated with that money, which investigators say the couple used to pay bills and other expenses.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Sherri Papini kidnapping update: California woman’s family ‘appalled’ at arrest in fake kidnapping case

Dais Johnston

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