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Who Is Sherri Papini? The Woman Behind 2016 Kidnapping Hoax and New Hulu Documentary ‘Perfect Wife’

Her ex-husband, Keith, is speaking out about his former wife and the ‘pain she caused’

In 2016, Sherri Papini mysteriously disappeared while jogging, only to reappear 22 days later. When she returned home, Sherri claimed she had been kidnapped, beaten and held at gunpoint. But after years of back-and-forth with the FBI, Sherri was charged with 34 counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements.

Now, her ex-husband, Keith Papini, is speaking out about his former wife’s alleged disappearance and her lies leading up to it. A Hulu documentary titled Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini, released in June 2024, is a three-part series that delves into the case of Sherry’s kidnapping.

I do believe the core thing would be attention,” Keith explained to Fox News. “I think she likes it when people feel for her and look at her as a victim… at anyone’s cost. To be honest, I don’t think she’s capable of seeing what she did and the lives that it affected, the ripple effect, how much pain she caused so many people.”

Keep reading to learn more about Sherri, what happened in the case and the new Hulu documentary.

What really happened to Sherri Papini?

man and woman wedding photos
Sherri Papini and ex-husband, KeithVia Instagram @People

At age 34, Sherri , mother of two, mysteriously vanished. She was found on Thanksgiving Day, 146 miles south of where she disappeared, covered in injuries and still in restraints. Sherri had a brand on her shoulder and bruises on her face, among other injuries. She later told police that she was held captive by two women.

It was a crazy story and one she told for six years. But Sherri’s account was full of false statements. Shasta County Sherriff Sergeant Kyle Wallace said, “A lot of the lies that she told us had a lot of truth to it. So it’s really hard to decipher.” While certain aspects of her story were believable, there were issues with a lot of her claims.

Although Sherri was warned not to make false statements multiple times by the FBI, she stuck to her story. For six years, she spread false information, while also collecting compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board and the Social Security Administration.

Where was she the whole time she was missing?

Amid the investigation , DNA was discovered on Sherri’s clothing that belonged to one of her ex-boyfriend’s, a man she had not dated in 15 years. When Sherri told her ex, James Reyes, that she needed to escape her husband, Keith, Reyes did everything he could to help her. He picked her up from hundreds of miles away and found her somewhere to stay.

Reyes later explained to investigators that Sherri asked him to hit her — a request he refused. He eventually agreed to “hold a hockey stick for her to run into and to pelt her with hockey pucks.” Reyes also confirmed he branded Sherri when she asked him to.

According to Sherri’s sentencing documents, she was never kidnapped or tortured. It seems as though the mom of two faked her kidnapping in order to receive money from Social Security and California Victims’ Board. She also showed no remorse for her crimes, according to the documents.

Sherri was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but got out on early release, and owes $300,000 in restitution.

Where is Sherri Papini now?

woman looks nervous; sherri papini
Sherri PapiniVia Instagram @enews

Papini was officially released from prison in October 2023. According to Keith, she has minor contact with her children and speaks with them once a week. She is also able to have professionally supervised visitations with her kids once a month. Keith confirmed he is no longer in contact with his ex-wife.

At the end of the day, you feel like if you can trust anyone, it’s your partner in life. But I was wrong,” Keith said of his ex-wife. “She definitely had a history of exaggerating. And I would say at this point, lying.”

He added, “Even if she were to come out someday and do a book or magazine, I can assure you that whatever is in there is going to be what she thinks she should say to get whatever goal she’s after, but it will not be the truth.”

Hulu’s ‘Perfect Wife’ examines the kidnapping case

Hulu’s new documentary series, Perfect Wife, chronicles the case that captured the world’s attention in three parts. Keith admitted that filming the series allowed him to “connect the dots” regarding his ex-wife’s tactics, realizing that she had used elements of real kidnap victims’ stories and the film version of Gone Girl to craft her plot.

Filmmakers reached out to Sherri on multiple occasions, but she did not respond to their attempts.

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