The world now gets to see the moment when the gig was truly up for wannabe Gone Girl Sherri Papini when she was confronted in 2020 with what federal investigators had figured out about her fabricated 2016 abduction.
But it was back in August 2020 that her elaborately constructed narrative — about being abducted on the side of the road by two Hispanic women while she was out jogging, only to be returned with a broken nose and a brand allegedly given to her by her kidnappers who made no demands and just let her go three weeks later — began to unravel.
A federal agent and an investigator from the Shasta County Sheriff's Office sat down with Sherri and Keith Papini in an interrogation room in August 2020 to confront them with the facts they'd discovered in the case. And everything pointed to Sherri having made the whole thing up, and having spent three weeks with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California. The video of the interrogation was just released by the sheriff's office and picked up by KCRA.
And if you're wondering why no one is wearing a mask despite this being a tight indoor space at the height of the early, pre-vaccine pandemic in August 2020, I'll give you two words: Shasta County.
The first question to be answered in the interrogation is whether Sherri wants her husband in the room when they confront her with their evidence. The two investigators leave the room briefly as the Papinis discuss the situation, and then soon return, and Keith Papini remains in the room.
Remarkably, Sherri continues to stick to her story, first telling her husband and then the two investigators that she doesn't want the younger of her two supposed abductors to be found, because Sherri credits her with saving her life. It starts to feel like a case of having told a lie for so long that you start believing it yourself — because she digs in deeper and cries and protests as they begin to show her the evidence they have of what really happened.
One investigator says he knows that Sherri spent time at ex-boyfriend James Reyes's house, and that he purchased the brand she was branded with on her shoulder, and helped her to break her nose with a hockey stick. "I know all of these things because he passed a polygraph and he said 'This is not an abduction, she told me to come get her,'" the investigator says.
Papini covers her face, shakes her head and seems to be crying, inexplicably at this point saying, "There's no way it's James."
They also say that James's cousin Robert saw her in the house, and she replies, "Who's Robert?"
The investigators say that James passed the polygraph on questions of whether he came to fetch Papini, whether he and Papini had sex during this visit (they apparently didn't), and where and how he branded Papini. They also confirmed Reyes's DNA on her clothing.
Papini continues to say, "I can not believe that it is James," as if she herself had been fooled into believing two women abducted her?
The federal agent warns Sherri, "Lying to me is a crime" and "If you walk out this door lying to me, that's a crime." Guess what she did!
It's very uncomfortable! Keith Papini just sits there quietly and awkwardly! And it goes on much longer than it would if this were a TV show. And then Keith eventually excuses himself, and then the sheriff's investigator confronts her about the fact that she lied about being abused by Keith in the past — at some point she apparently hurt herself playing a game at a party and then told friends that her injuries came from Keith. The abuse story was apparently something she used to get James to come pick her up.
Papini ended up pleading guilty in April to two counts of mail fraud and making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer. The mail fraud related in part to the $30,000 she received in payments from the California Victims Compensation Board between 2017 and 2021 — some of which was supposed to pay for a therapist who clearly did not do much good.