REDDING, Calif. - The Shasta County Sheriff has released video recording of their interrogation of Sherri Papini of Redding, who was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison for faking her kidnappings so that she could be with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California.
In the video, investigators told Papini they knew she hadn't been abducted because all DNA evidence was from her and the ex-boyfriend – not the two Hispanic women she falsely claimed were responsible for taking her while she was out for a job.
The ex, James Reyes, submitted to a lie detector test, where he confessed to what happened.
As they question her on Aug. 13, 2020, she breaks down in tears.
The conversation went like this:
Detective: He passed the polygraph test, Sherri.
Detective: If that's not what happened, then what did happen, Sherri?
Papini: I don't know. There's no way it's James. There's no way. There's no way. (She breaks down in tears)
Detective: The DNA doesn't lie. His DNA was on you.
Papini: There's no way.
At one point later in the interview, Papini seems to cave.
"Why did I do that?" she sobs.
Detective: We're trying to understand why you did that too. We're trying to understand all of it.
Shortly before the video ends, Papini mumbles: "I'm horrible."
The interrogation was to find out what really happened to Papini, a mother of two who disappeared during three weeks in 2016, only to resurface on Thanksgiving Day that year.
Passersby found her with bindings on her body, a swollen nose, a blurred "brand" on her right shoulder, bruises and rashes across her body, ligature marks on her wrists and ankles, and burns on her left forearm.
All of the injuries were self-inflicted and were designed to substantiate her fake story that two Hispanic women kidnapped her.
Prosecutors said Papini’s ruse harmed more than just herself and her family.
"An entire community believed the hoax and lived in fear that Hispanic women were roving the streets to abduct and sell women," they wrote.
Papini pleaded guilty last spring under a plea bargain that requires her to pay more than $300,000 in restitution.
She has offered no rationale for her actions, which stumped even independent mental health experts who said her actions didn’t conform with any typical diagnosis.
She must surrender on Nov. 8.
Her ex-husband, Keith Papini filed for divorce in April and has asked for sole custody of their children, citing "the negative impact of their mother's notoriety."