Woman who faked her own kidnapping has been sentenced to prison

Claire Reid

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Woman who faked her own kidnapping has been sentenced to prison

Featured Image Credit: Shasta County Sheriff/Shutterstock

A woman who faked her own kidnapping and lied about it to the FBI has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. 

Sherri Papini, from California, hit headlines in 2016 after she disappeared while out for a jog on 2 November, prompting a weeks-long search.

Papini was found 22 days later, bound by restraints and with several injuries, including a broken nose. Papini told police she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women.

DNA samples were collected and Papini even provided a description of her alleged kidnappers to an FBI sketch artist.  However, a motive was never determined and no arrests were made. 

Sherri Papini admitted to the hoax. Credit: Facebook
Sherri Papini admitted to the hoax. Credit: Facebook

A break in the case finally came in 2020 after investigators took the DNA samples and tested them using genetic genealogy, which flagged up a connection to a family member of Papini’s ex-boyfriend.

Officers then took a sample from the ex to confirm the match, before hauling him in for questioning where he admitted to helping Papini ‘run away’ from what she said was an abusive relationship. 

He told police Papini had injured herself, cut off her own hair and asked him to brand her to help make the hoax look more believable. 

When presented with the new evidence, Papini continued to stick to her original story - but in March this year, authorities announced charges against her and she eventually pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal. 

She appeared in court today where she was given an 18-month sentence as well as 36-months of supervised release. 

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

She was also ordered to pay $309,902 by 8 November in restitution for losses incurred by the California Victim Compensation Board.

Papini's attorney William Portanova said the sentence was ‘fair’. 

He previously insisted his client was a ‘different’ person now, telling reporters: "Whatever happened five years ago, that's a different Sherri Papini than the person you see here today."

Speaking after sentencing, prosecutors said: “An entire community believed the hoax and lived in fear that Hispanic women were roving the streets to abduct and sell women.”

Sherri Papini in April this year. Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo
Sherri Papini in April this year. Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

They went on: “She maintained her hoax and received Social Security and California Victims’ benefits for years, demonstrating that she had no remorse for her actions even after the FBI presented her with evidence of her fraud.”

In April, Papini said in a statement: “I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so very 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.”

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: News, US News, Crime

Claire Reid
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