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Gone Girl IRL! California Mom Charged After Allegedly Faking Her Headline-Grabbing 2016 Kidnapping!

Gone Girl IRL! California Mom Charged After Allegedly Faking Her Headline-Grabbing 2016 Kidnapping!

A supposedly-vanished California mom who was at the center of a frantic, national three-week-long search back in 2016 has allegedly been lying about the ENTIRE kidnapping!

Sherri Papini was infamously the focus of a nationwide manhunt throughout the month of November 2016 when she disappeared while jogging in the city of Redding, in far northern California.

Incredibly, several weeks later on Thanksgiving Day, she was discovered back in the area with a broken nose and a burn-mark “brand” on her shoulder while “bound with restraints” on the side of the road. Upon her miraculous discovery, the now-39-year-old woman told investigators she had been kidnapped by two Hispanic people. Her detailed account of the purported abduction and the women allegedly involved even led to the FBI creating sketches of the supposed assailants.

Related: Father Tracked Down Kidnapping Suspect Who Allegedly Took His Children From Home!

But six years later, in a shocking new development that first broke late on Thursday, authorities now believe that Papini allegedly orchestrated the entire supposed kidnapping on her own.

WTF?! This is truly like something out of Ben Affleck‘s well-known 2014 film Gone Girl!!!

At the time, back in 2016, Papini had reportedly been jogging near her home in Redding, several hundred miles north of San Francisco, when she disappeared. Only her cell phone and ear buds were found after she failed to pick up her kids from day care later that day. Her husband, Keith Papini (pictured above, insert at right) was questioned by cops and passed a lie detector test, and authorities immediately set out on a nationwide manhunt searching for Sherri. Three weeks later, on Thanksgiving, Sherri was discovered back in northern California, about 150 miles from her home, bound with a chain around her waist, a swollen nose, and bindings around her wrists and ankles.

Male DNA later discovered on her body and clothing eventually led cops to a former boyfriend in 2020, per this week’s new court filing. Once questioned, the man confirmed that Papini had allegedly stayed with him in the southern California city of Costa Mesa during the time she was supposedly kidnapped, after she had asked him to come to Redding to rescue her from a supposedly abusive relationship. However, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office had never received any reports of Sherri’s husband being abusive, despite her apparent domestic violence and rape allegations made to the ex-boyfriend.

Prior to returning her to the Redding area, the ex-boyfriend also claimed Sherri cut her own hair and purposely beat herself to create bruises on her body in order to stage an ordeal. The criminal complaint adds that Papini allegedly used a wood-burning tool to brand herself, and more:

“Ex-boyfriend said he helped her create some of the injuries, although he never laid his hands directly on her; for example, she told him, ‘bank a puck off my leg,’ so [he] shot a puck off her leg, lightly.”


Upon returning home and being discovered by authorities, Papini described very specific supposed assailants — who cops now believe never existed. In a press release about the investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California stated their allegation that the mom faked the kidnapping, revealing (below):

“In truth, Papini had been voluntarily staying with a former boyfriend in Costa Mesa and had harmed herself to support her false statements.”

U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert, who has been investigating the case, added in his own statement:

“When a young mother went missing in broad daylight, a community was filled with fear and concern. Ultimately, the investigation revealed that there was no kidnapping and that time and resources that could have been used to investigate actual crime, protect the community, and provide resources to victims were wasted.”

On Thursday, it all came to a head when Papini was arrested and charged with making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud, per news reports. If convicted on the mail fraud charges, Papini could face up to 20 years in prison; the false statements charge carries a potential 5-year sentence, as well.

According to the court filing, Papini was interviewed by federal agents in August 2020, when the investigators “showed her evidence indicating she had not been kidnapped.” Along with it, they apparently “warned her that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent,” but, the investigators claim in the arrest report, Papini allegedly continued to lie.

Aside from reportedly making false statements, another part of the issue is that Papini was paid more than $30,000 over the course of about 35 payments by the California Victim Compensation Board based on her allegedly false story. According to a court filing, that compensation included money for therapy visits for “treatment for anxiety and PTSD,” as well as other associated medical and personal costs.

Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson explained:

“Everyone involved in this investigation had one common goal: to find the truth about what happened on Nov. 2, 2016, with Sherri Papini and who was responsible … [The investigation] caused the general public to be fearful of their own safety, a fear that they should not have had to endure.”

So crazy!!!

Along with all the law enforcement chatter, Papini’s family members released a statement supporting her on Thursday, too.

In it, they criticized local police for the way they supposedly “ambushed” Sherri in order to arrest her, saying:

“We love Sherri and are appalled by the way in which law enforcement ambushed her this afternoon in a dramatic and unnecessary manner in front of her children. If requested, Sherri would have fully complied and come to the police station, as she has done multiple times before, where this could have been handled in a more appropriate way.”


Here is more on this absolutely mind-boggling case, from GMA (below):

Wow. Just… wow.

What a long, thorough look by investigators at what allegedly appears to have been such a bizarre, audacious con.

What do you think about all this, Perezcious readers?

Sound OFF with your take down in the comments (below)…

[Image via Good Morning America/YouTube/20th Century Studios/YouTube]

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Mar 04, 2022 17:18pm PDT