Sherri Papini released from prison after kidnapping hoax

Northern California mom Sherri Papini, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for a kidnapping hoax that triggered a national media blitz and a costly multistate search, has been released from federal prison, online records show.

Papini, 41, is currently in community confinement, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Residential Reentry Management Office in Sacramento, which oversees halfway houses in California, Guam, Hawaii and northern Nevada, placed Papini in an undisclosed location.

She could be in a halfway house or home confinement – but either way she served less than one year in prison.

The mother of two pleaded guilty in 2022 to two charges in a sweeping 35-count indictment accusing her of hatching a kidnapping scheme with her ex-boyfriend nearly seven years ago.

On Nov. 2, 2016, she went for a jog in Redding, California, near her home, leaving her cellphone and earbuds on the side of the road. 

She had her ex-boyfriend pick her up and drive her 600 miles south to his home in Costa Mesa.

She reemerged three weeks later on Thanksgiving Day bound, beaten and with a brand on her shoulder 150 miles from her home and pinned her abduction on two Hispanic women who she claimed held her at gunpoint.  


Interrogation of California kidnap hoax suspect released; Sherri Papini breaks down

In an interrogation video released by the sheriff, Redding mother Sherri Papini breaks down in tears under questioning about her kidnap hoax.

It took investigators years to piece together what actually happened as they searched for the phantom perpetrators, with a key piece of DNA evidence playing a pivotal role in unraveling her false story.

Investigators identified an unknown male's DNA on her underwear when she returned and matched it to a relative of her ex-boyfriend. 

Once they tracked him down, he came clean and admitted to helping her brand herself and shooting a hockey puck off her leg to cause bruising before dropping her off on the side of the road.

Detectives with the Shasta County Sheriff's Office confronted her about the hoax in front of her dumbstruck husband in a 2020 videotaped interrogation, which was released last year.

The troubled mom continued to deny the kidnapping was fake or that she had been with her ex-boyfriend even as detectives confronted her with evidence that undermined her story.

She was not arrested until March 2022. Her husband filed for divorce days later.

Before her arrest, Papini illegally collected thousands of dollars in benefits by perpetuating the false kidnapping tale to the California Victim Compensation Board and the Social Security Administration.

At her sentencing, she apologized to her family and the public. She was ordered to pay about $309,000 in restitution.

She is expected to be officially released from federal custody Oct. 29.