Woman charged with faking kidnapping released from jail

Posted at 4:27 PM, March 9, 2022 and last updated 9:04 AM, August 29, 2023

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California woman who was arrested last week for allegedly faking her own 2016 kidnapping and lying to federal agents was released from jail on Tuesday.

A federal judge allowed Sherri Papini, 39, to be released after her family posted a $120,000 bond. Papini must undergo psychiatric treatment and surrender her passport as conditions of her release.


Wearing a gray hoodie and keeping her head down, Papini ran out the doors of the jail in Sacramento and, embraced by friends or family, dashed to a car past a throng of reporters and photographers shouting questions.

During a virtual detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremy D. Peterson had agreed with Papini’s attorney that she wasn’t a flight risk or a threat to the community.

She was arrested Thursday on charges of lying to federal agents about being kidnapped and defrauding the state’s victim compensation board of $30,000.

FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2016, file photo, a “missing” sign for Mountain Gate, Calif., resident Sherri Papini, is seen along Sunrise Drive, near the location where the mom of two is believed to have gone missing while on an afternoon jog. Papini, whose disappearance and mysterious reappearance set off a frantic three-week search more than five years earlier, was arrested Thursday, March 3, 2022, on charges of lying to federal agents about being kidnapped and defrauding the state’s victim compensation board of $30,000. (Andrew Seng/The Sacramento Bee via AP, File)

In arguing against her release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Alegria said when FBI agents tried to arrest Papini last week, “she screamed ‘no’ and ran away from them and resisted arrest.” Her attorney said Papini was running toward her children.

Papini, of Redding, was found on Thanksgiving Day in 2016 after three weeks of searching in California and several nearby states. She had bindings on her body and injuries including a swollen nose and a “brand” on her right shoulder.

A courtroom sketch from Sherri Papini’s March 8 hearing. (Courtesy Vicki Behringer)

She told authorities that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, providing descriptions to an FBI sketch artist along with extensive details of her purported abduction.

Authorities said she was actually staying with a former boyfriend nearly 600 miles (966 kilometers) away from her home in Orange County, in Southern California, and hurt herself to back up her false statements.

Prosecutors and the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office say Papini’s abduction hoax cost Shasta County, state and federal taxpayers, crime victims and donors more than $200,000.