Followers of the true-crime world were rocked this week with news that the harrowing story of Sherri Papini, the California mom who claimed she had been kidnapped, beaten, branded, and held captive for three weeks, has turned out to be an elaborate hoax. Sherry Papini will be pleading guilty to federal charges and required to pay back in restitution more than $300,000 that were issued by the California Victim Compensation Board.
Everyone in the nation began hearing the name Sherry Papini when she went out for a jog back in 2016 and never came home. All that was found was her phone and earbuds on the side of the road. A nationwide search was launched after she was reported missing—her name and face were everywhere. It wasn’t until three weeks later when Papini was found trying to flag down a car on the side of the road more than 150 miles from her home, bound in chains, her hair cut short, and her body bruised and branded. Sherri Papini spun a wild story about how she had been kidnapped during her jog by two armed women who held her captive and branded her like cattle.
Last month, the terrifying story that Sherri concocted finally unraveled last month when she was arrested on charges of lying to federal authorities and mail fraud. Department of Justice investigators were able to confirm that the injuries on Papini’s body were self-inflicted, and she had been hiding out at the home of her former boyfriend. According to US Attorney Phillip A. Talbert in a released statement, “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 based on the defendant’s conduct.” Despite initial doubts about her story, both from law enforcement and the public at large, Papini had remained adamant about the truth of her story—until this week.
A plea agreement for Sherri Papini was announced Tuesday in which she will plead guilty to a single count of mail fraud and a single count of making false statements to authorities. In a statement issued through her lawyer, Papini apologized to her family and loved ones, describing herself as “deeply ashamed” of her actions.