Crime and Courts

Where is Sherri Papini, whose false kidnapping story inspired ‘Perfect Wife', now?

"Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini" takes a three-part documentary look at the 2016 hoax.

Sherri Papini, a California mom of two, disappeared while jogging in 2016. She resurfaced 22 days later on the side of a highway with injuries, claiming to have been kidnapped. She kept up the tale with her husband, Keith Papini, their kids and investigators for years.

While she did disappear, the rest of Sherri Papini’s story turned out to be a fabrication. 

Sherri Papini pleaded guilty in 2022 to faking her own disappearance and lying to the FBI about it. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison and was released in 2023. 

The case is back in the news thanks to Hulu’s three-part documentary “Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini.”

Sherri Papini did not participate in the Hulu docuseries. The series ends with the words, “The filmmakers made several attempts to contact Sherri Papini but never received a response.” 

But who was Sherri Papini before the events of 2016? What happened to her after she came home? And where is she today? Read on.

What happened to Sherri Papini? Was she really kidnapped?

Sherri Papini, then 34, was reported missing in November of 2016. She’d been living in Redding, California with her husband Keith and their two young children, and reportedly vanished while out jogging near her home.  

On Thanksgiving Day, she turned up 146 miles south of where she’d vanished, per a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. She still had restraints on her body and was covered in injuries — including a brand on her shoulder, bruises on her face, a swollen nose and rashes. She claimed two women had kidnapped her at gunpoint, held her, and beat her.

Sherri Papini persisted in her story for nearly six years of investigation.

Shasta County Sheriff Sergeant Kyle Wallace and Captain Brian Jackson, who worked on the case, told NBC News’ Dateline in an interview she was “dedicated” to her story.

“A lot of the lies that she told us had a lot of truth to it. So it’s really hard to decipher,” Wallace said.

When interviewed by the FBI and a detective from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in 2020, Sherri Papini was warned against making false statements to federal agents, and she continued to support her story, per the complaint. Meanwhile, she was also collecting compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board and the Social Security Administration.

Ultimately, DNA on her clothing led investigators to James Reyes, an ex-boyfriend of Papini’s, per the complaint.  

Sherri Papini had told Reynolds — whom she hadn’t dated in 15 years — that she needed to escape her husband. He did everything he could to help, including driving hundreds of miles to pick her up. He also arranged a room for her to stay in, according to Dateline’s interview with Wallace and Jackson. He also branded her. Reyes was not charged with a crime.

Papini was charged in 2022 and sentenced to prison

On April 12, 2022, Sherri Papini was charged with 34 counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements, per the Department of Justice. The mail fraud came from receiving over $30,000 from the Victim Compensation Board between 2017 and 2021.

A few days later, Keith Papini filed for divorce and requested sole custody of their children, according to court records obtained by NBC News.

Sherri Papini pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements, NBC News reported. As part of her plea agreement, Sherri Papini was required to pay $300,000 in restitution to multiple government agencies including about $127,000 to the Social Security administration and about $148,000  to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.  

At her sentencing in September 2022, she was given 18 months in prison, after which she’d have 36 months of supervised release. 

Where is Sherri Papini now?

Sherri Papini was released from prison in August 2023 and was sent to community confinement in Sacramento County. Her full release date was Oct. 29, 2023.

She was due in court in October 2023 for a preliminary trial readiness conference regarding her divorce, but she failed to appear. 

She had been released from community confinement a few days earlier, and her lawyer said he didn’t know her whereabouts, according to local news station KRCR.

Sherri Papini has yet to pay the approximately $310,000 owed, per an application for writ of garnishment filed in March 2024 by the Eastern District of California’s D.A. office. The amount has now gone up to $340,000 due to a 10%  litigation surcharge. The government issued a writ of garnishment against Sherri Papini’s law firm Kinney & Kinney believing she has property that could help pay off the debt. reached out to Kinney & Kinney for comment.

Is Sherri Papini in touch with her family?

Keith Papini said, in a June 2024 interview with the TV Insider, that the couple’s children — a son, 11 and a daughter, 9 — speak to Sherri Papini.

“They speak to her on the phone once a month or every other week. Shortly, it’ll be every week, so let me just say they speak to her every week, and they see her in a professionally supervised visitation once a month,” he said.

 Keith Papini, who is featured in the Hulu documentary, confirmed he no longer speaks to his ex-wife.

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