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Californian Mum Charged With Faking Own Kidnapping 'Deeply Ashamed' Of Behaviour

Californian Mum Charged With Faking Own Kidnapping 'Deeply Ashamed' Of Behaviour

Sherri Papini, 39, has admitted her 2016 disappearance was all an elaborate hoax

The Californian mum who faked her own kidnapping in 2016 has accepted a plea deal, admitting the whole thing was a hoax. 

Sherri Papini, 39, is set to appear before a magistrate judge today (13 April) and another hearing the following Monday where she is set to plead guilty to two counts of mail fraud and lying to a law enforcement officer, her lawyer told The Sacramento Bee

These crimes carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and five years respectively.

Sherri Papini has accepted a plea deal.

In a statement made through her lawyer, Papini said: “I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behaviour and so sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me.

“I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”

The news arrives after the mother-of-two from Redding was arrested in early March and charged with lying to federal agents about the kidnapping and for defrauding the California Victim Compensation Board from which she claimed $30,000.

Papini first hit headlines in 2016 after she supposedly disappeared while out jogging on 2 November, 2016, prompting a nationwide search and a GoFundMe page that raised $49,000.

She was discovered 22 days later bound up with restraints and several injuries including a broken nose and a ‘brand’ on her shoulder. 

Papini claimed she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, and even provided descriptions to an FBI sketch artist – but no motive was ever determined and no arrests were made. 

Police collected DNA samples when she was discovered, but they received no results when running them through the National Crime Database.

However, in 2020, cops were made aware of a potential match and traced it back to an ex-boyfriend of Papini, who came clean and admitted the whole thing was a hoax. 

Papini provided descriptions of her alleged kidnaps to an FBI sketch artist.

The ex-boyfriend, James Reyes, 37, told agents she asked him to pick her up on the day of her alleged disappearance after convincing him her husband was abusing her and she needed to escape, despite no reports of such abuse being filed. 

An affidavit released by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California stated Papini had ‘multiple affairs and boyfriends’ and was described by ex-partners as ‘attention-hungry’.  

Reyes went on to tell officers that the pair were planning to escape and used prepaid phones to arrange the details. He then collected her on 2 November, and Papini spent the next few weeks at his apartment before hiring a rental car to take her back to the area she lived on 24 November.

In the wake of the incident, Papini collected $30,000 from the state’s victim compensation board. 

Court documents filed by the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California state: “Papini was not ordered into a vehicle by two people with handguns, she was not held captive for 22 days, she did not attempt to escape several times, and she had not fully cooperated with the investigation.

Sherri Papini.

“In truth and in fact, at her own request, Papini was picked up by Ex-Boyfriend who was driving a rental car, and voluntarily rode with Ex-Boyfriend from the Redding area all the way south to his house in Costa Mesa. 

“Papini voluntarily stayed at Ex-Boyfriend’s house for approximately 22 days, was not held captive, and did not attempt to escape because she was not restrained and was free to leave at any time. 

“Furthermore, rather than cooperating with the investigation, Papini lied about the circumstances of her disappearance to law enforcement.”

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy/NBC

Topics: Crime, US News