Sherri Papini’s fake kidnapping story unravelled after male DNA was found on her sweatpants, investigators say

Papini is facing charges of lying to federal agents and defrauding the California Victim Compensation Board

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 10 March 2022 19:01 GMT
Sherri Papini, accused of faking her own kidnapping, leaves jail after posting bail

Male DNA found on Sherri Papini’s sweatpants and underwear led to the unravelling of the California woman’s alleged kidnapping claims, investigators say.

Court charging documents reveal that the DNA, discovered after the 39-year-olds re-appearance in California in November 2016,  did not belong to her female “abductors” or her husband.

But Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Captain Brian Jackson, one of the lead detectives on the case, says he was convinced that the discovery would eventually solve the case.

“Once we had the DNA, I knew we’d be able to find something, and I just kept telling our guys and our ladies, be patient it’s going to happen and we just kept pushing on,” he told People.

Ms Papini told authorities she had been abducted at gunpoint and held captive by two armed and masked Hispanic women, one in her 20s or 30s and the other between 40 and 50.

The DNA was later discovered by investigators in 2017 and would eventually lead to the conclusion that she had run away from home and not been abducted.

The investigation heated up when authorities requested  a “familial DNA” search in 2019, which scours DNA databanks for male relatives of an unknown suspect.

The indictment in the case states that in March 2020 police were notified that a potential male relative of the unknown male in the case, whose DNA was on Ms Papini’s clothing, had been identified. That male was related to an ex-boyfriend of Ms Papini.

Three months later investigators took a bottle of Honest Honey Green Tea from trash outside the ex-boyfriend’s apartment in Southern California.

And the following day law enforcement scientists “concluded that the DNA obtained from the mouth area of the Honest Honey Green Tea bottle matched the unknown male DNA collected from Papini’s clothing.”

The FBI affidavit states that when police interviewed the ex-boyfriend in August 2020 he admitted helping Ms Papini “run away” after she claimed “her husband was beating and raping her, and she was trying to escape.”

He said that he had picked her up in Redding, California, and taken her back to his apartment in Cosa Mesa, where she “created the injuries while staying with him, including hitting herself to create bruises and burning herself on her arms,” according to the complaint.

“Ex-Boyfriend said he helped her create some of the injuries, although he never laid his hands directly on her; for example, she told him, ‘bank a puck off my leg,’ so (he) shot a puck off her leg, lightly,” the complaint adds.

He told investigators he believed they might again end up in a romantic relationship, they had previously broken up in 2006, but Ms Papini told him she missed her kids and wanted to go home.

He then drove her back to Northern California and dropped her off on a rural road where she was later found 150 miles south of Redding with a chain around her waist.

She now faces charges of lying to federal agents and defrauding the California Victim Compensation Board of approximately $30,000.

Following her arrest she was released on $120,000 bail but had to surrender her passport and agree to mandated psychiatric treatment.

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