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Family Of Sherri Papini 'Appalled' Over Arrest On Charges She Faked 2016 Kidnapping

REDDING (CBS SF) – The family of Sherri Papini has reportedly issued a statement slamming law enforcement after her arrest Thursday on allegations that she faked her own kidnapping in 2016.

"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," said a statement provided to the Sacramento Bee newspaper by a public relations firm hired by the family.

As for the charges, the Papini family said they were "confused by several aspects" and that they "hope to get clarification in the coming days."

The 39-year-old from Redding was arrested on charges of making false statements to law enforcement connected to her disappearance five years ago. On November 2, 2016, Papini was reported missing by her husband, which prompted a massive search and made international headlines.

Sherri Papini
Sherri Papini. (CBS)

Papini was found on the morning of Thanksgiving 2016 near Woodland in Yolo County, injured, with bindings and a "brand" on her right shoulder.

Following the kidnapping, Papini described her captors as two Hispanic women and provided details of the alleged suspects to an FBI sketch artist.

"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." U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said in a statement.

According to the 55-page criminal complaint, investigators determined that while she was missing, Papini was actually several hundred miles away in Costa Mesa with a former boyfriend who had picked her up on the day she disappeared. The two had been communicating over prepaid cellphones in the months leading up to the disappearance.

While in Costa Mesa, officials said Papini cut her hair short and injured herself to support her kidnapping claims and that she asked her ex-boyfriend to brand her. The ex-boyfriend said she had stayed in his apartment during her entire disappearance while he had gone to work every day, and that the pair did not have sex. Just before Thanksgiving, the ex-boyfriend drove several hours north to drop her off after she said she missed her children.

In 2020, authorities confronted Papini after DNA evidence found on Papini's clothing when she was found was linked to the ex-boyfriend. Officials said Papini did not retract her story about the kidnapping, despite being warned that lying to a federal agent was a crime.

"The 22-day search for Sherri Papini and subsequent five-year search into who reportedly abducted her was not only taxing on public resources but caused the general public to be fearful of their own safety, a fear that they should not have had to endure," Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson said.

Papini has also been charged with engaging in mail fraud after receiving more than $30,000 from the California Victims' Compensation Board, much of it used for therapy sessions following her disappearance. Prosecutors said a GoFundMe account opened in connection to the case raised $49,000 and that some of the funds were used to pay off Papini and her husband's credit cards.

Officials said Papini faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the false statements charge and up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the mail fraud charge.

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