New video has been released of the moment the California mom who faked her own kidnapping saw her charade crumble.
Sherri Papini, sentenced to 18 months in prison for fabricating her abduction in 2016, is seen scrambling to fill the holes in her concocted story as police present her with evidence of the hoax in footage obtained by KRON 4.
Papini, 39, reportedly “burst into tears when two detectives told her that they found her ex-boyfriend and he passed a lie detector test” according to KRON which received the video footage from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office.
Papini maintained her innocence for nearly four years, claiming two Hispanic women abducted her at gunpoint while she was out jogging. But, prosecutors believe the Redding native began planning the charade in December of 2015 and was willingly staying with her ex-boyfriend in Orange County during the 22 days police searched for the missing woman, going so far as to stage injuries and brand herself to lend credence to her tale.
Papini’s husband recalled what he believed were the details of her ordeal in an interview with “20/20” in December of 2016, tearfully describing her terror at the hands of her alleged perpetrators.
“She literally lived through hell. The things she told me that she did,” Keith Papini told reporter Matt Gutman. “She told me one time that she took some piece of cloth, and rolled it up like it was Violet (the Papini’s two-year-old daughter) and she would rock it.”
In the newly released video, police ask Papini if she would like her husband to leave the room before moving on in the discussion. Papini, believing her story is still salvageable, asks Keith to remain, as the devoted husband has championed his wife’s bravery from the beginning.
When police leave the couple alone, Papini tearfully tells her husband that one of her alleged kidnappers helped her survive and she doesn’t want her to get into trouble.
“I don’t want her to be arrested. I don’t want to press charges on her. I don’t want them to find her,” Papini cries.
Keith repeatedly asks Papini to tell him the whole story, recognizing her allegiance to her kidnapper doesn’t align with the fear she expressed over the ordeal.
“You’re not making sense … to a point where I’m getting scared now,” Keith said in the video.
Detectives then return to the interrogation room and offer Papini another chance to come clean but Papini is steadfast in her tearful innocence.
Until police tell her that DNA results confirm the evidence collected from her body belonged to Papini’s ex-boyfriend James Reyes.
“We talked to [Reyes]. We’ve been on a polygraph,” the detective tells Papini. “We talked to everybody around him. We have the rental agreements. Phone rental, car rental agreements. We have everything that says that he said he told the truth.”
Keith sits quietly with his hands in his lap as police unravel the conspiracy.
“Everything you’ve told us, so many truths in this situation. The reason why you can describe the room is because you stayed in the room, in the dark, for hours, for days on end,” the detective said. “The reason why you lost so much weight is because you stopped eating. The reason why you got a rash on your arm was because you cleaned his house. The reason why [you had] the brand is because he went to the store, got the branding tools and branded you. The reason why your nose is broke is because of a hockey stick.”
Believing at this point that the evidence only indicts Reyes, Papini tearfully cries, “No, there’s no way it was James.”
Investigators quickly douse her hopes.
“[Reyes] told us what happened, and gave us details nobody else would know,” one detective said.
Papini pled guilty to mail fraud and making false statements in Sacramento federal court in April. On Monday, the 39-year-old mom was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release, and ordered to pay “$309,902 in restitution for losses incurred by the California Victim Compensation Board, the Social Security Administration, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” according to the Department of Justice.
“Not only did Papini lie to law enforcement, her friends, and her family, she also made false statements to the California Victim Compensation Board and the Social Security Administration in order to receive benefits as a result of her alleged ‘post-traumatic stress’ from being abducted,” the DOJ wrote in a statement.
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