'Sherri Papini did not pull this off on her own', says sheriff who investigated hoax disappearance


The sheriff who investigated California mom Sherri Papini’s hoax disappearance said on Monday that other charges against people close to her may be looming, and that she did not ‘pull it off on her own’. 

Papini, 39, was arrested last Thursday for faking her disappearance in 2016. She vanished from her home in Redding, California, on November 2 while out for a run. She reappeared on November 24, after a highly publicized search, and claimed she had been kidnapped by two Hispanic women who beat her. 

Now, police say she made the entire story up as a way to get attention. They say she was staying with an ex-boyfriend for the 22 days she was missing. She convinced the ex to pick her up and drive her to his apartment in Southern California after telling him her husband Keith was ‘abusing’ her. 

On Monday, Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson appeared on Good Morning America where he said other charges ‘wouldn’t surprise’ him. 

DailyMail.com revealed the ex-boyfriend to be James Reyes, a 37-year-old sports shop worker. He confessed the plot to police after being identified by DNA found on Sherri’s clothes through a familial match. 

 

Reyes has not been charged, and neither has Sherri’s husband Keith. 

Local police say Keith was just as duped by his wife as the public was. 

Federal prosecutors, in their 55-page criminal complaint against Sherri, detail how Keith spent $8,000 or the $49,000 raised to ‘bring her home’ on GoFundMe to pay off his own credit cards. 

Sheriff Johnson did not name who else may face charges on Monday, but he said: ‘It’s got to go to a grand jury. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. 

‘She didn’t pull it off by herself. There are other people involved.’ 

On Monday, Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson appeared on Good Morning America where he said other charges 'wouldn't surprise' him

On Monday, Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson appeared on Good Morning America where he said other charges ‘wouldn’t surprise’ him

Sherri Papini with her husband Keith. Keith has not been charged and it's unclear if is a suspect

Sherri Papini with her husband Keith. Keith has not been charged and it’s unclear if is a suspect

He slammed Sherri as a ‘selfish narcissist’ who wasted precious police resources and needlessly frightened a community. 

James Reyes, 37, is the ex-boyfriend who hid California 'super mom' Sherri Papini for 22 days

James Reyes, 37, is the ex-boyfriend who hid California ‘super mom’ Sherri Papini for 22 days 

‘It is a case of calculated deception driven by her narcissistic behavior. It really had an impact on this community and nationwide. That is the big problem. There was a lot of time, effort, resources, money and multiple agencies coming together, putting forth this effort to try to help a victim and solve a case that was tragic. 

‘Human trafficking is a real thing and there are victims that need our help and budgets are tight. When we put all that effort into a case and find out we’ve been duped, it’s really taxing on everybody.  

‘You have a story of a typical American mom, abducted by what seemingly is a cartel-type of human trafficking operation which is just not true,’ he fumed.   

Papini is currently being held in the Sacramento County Jail where her attorneys say she is not able to eat because of her food allergies. 

She will appear in court on Tuesday at 2pm PST for a detention hearing, and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 18. 

Reyes said the pair spent three weeks hiding out at his apartment in Costa Mesa and helped her fabricate the injuries she had when she returned home

Reyes said the pair spent three weeks hiding out at his apartment in Costa Mesa and helped her fabricate the injuries she had when she returned home 

Papini is currently being held in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, where she is struggling to eat because of food allergies, according to her attorneys. Her next court appearance is tomorrow

Papini is currently being held in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, where she is struggling to eat because of food allergies, according to her attorneys. Her next court appearance is tomorrow

In their criminal complaint, police detail how Papini and her husband spent money donated to them by strangers on her therapy and improving their home. 

FBI agents revealed how he deposited the $49,000 raised by a GoFundMe page designed to help find Sherri into his bank account after she returned home on November 24, 2016.

He first wrote a check to himself for $31,000, then another for over $1,000. In total, Keith used around $8,000 of the money to pay off his personal credit cards.

Sherri used some $3,000 paying off her own credit card, and the pair used the rest of the GoFundMe money on ‘personal expenses’, according to the indictment.

In 2016, the Papini family received more than $49,000 in donations from strangers who wanted to help them find the missing mom. After Sherri returned home, they used the funds to pay off personal credit cards and put it towards expenses, prosecutors claim

In 2016, the Papini family received more than $49,000 in donations from strangers who wanted to help them find the missing mom. After Sherri returned home, they used the funds to pay off personal credit cards and put it towards expenses, prosecutors claim 

Papini's inmate information from the Sacramento County Jail. Her attorneys say she has not eaten anything but an apple

Papini’s inmate information from the Sacramento County Jail. Her attorneys say she has not eaten anything but an apple

Prosecutors have also charged Sherri with fraudulently claiming more than $30,000 from California's Victim Compensation Board between 2017 and 2021

Prosecutors have also charged Sherri with fraudulently claiming more than $30,000 from California’s Victim Compensation Board between 2017 and 2021

Prosecutors also claim that Sherri – who is described as pathological liar and attention-seeker by ex-boyfriends and bosses – fraudulently claimed over $30,000 in payments from California’s Victim Compensation Board between 2017 and 2022.

She claimed 35 payments from the board and said the payments were for things like therapy and going to the doctor.

She also spent $1,000 on blinds for her home which she claimed back from the compensation board.

The ex-boyfriend has not been named. He told police how he and Sherri dated in 2006 and ‘loved’ each other. She randomly got in touch with him in 2016 again, he said, and told him that her husband was abusing her.

Sherri's husband Keith (shown in 2017) used $8,000 of the GoFundMe money paying off his personal credit card, according to the indictment

Sherri’s husband Keith (shown in 2017) used $8,000 of the GoFundMe money paying off his personal credit card, according to the indictment 

The pair then spoke on pre-paid cell phones, arranging for her to run away for months before November 2, when he collected her from Redding and the alleged hoax began.

The ex-boyfriend admitted to investigators that he thought their relationship would become romantic once they were back at his apartment in Costa Mesa, but that it never did.

Instead, Sherri took over his bedroom and he slept on the couch. She locked herself away in the room, starved herself and cut off her hair then started inflicting injuries on herself.

He told how she convinced him to brand her with a hot tool, then asked him to drive her seven hours north, back to her home in Redding, on November 24.

He was unaware of the media storm that had brewed over the three weeks because he did not have a TV, he said.

‘THEY PLAYED ANNOYING MEXICAN MUSIC AND FED ME TORTILLAS’: PAPINI’S ‘LIES’ ABOUT CAPTORS SHE CLAIMED WERE HISPANIC WOMEN 

The 55-page arrest affidavit reveals some of what Papini told police about the ‘Hispanic women’ who kidnapped her. 

Below are excerpts from that affidavit: 

Papini claims that two Hispanic women driving an SUV abducted her but covered their faces. These sketches were released of them almost a year after she went missing

Papini claims that two Hispanic women driving an SUV abducted her but covered their faces. These sketches were released of them almost a year after she went missing 

‘They would play music loudly. That really annoying Mexican music. And theywould watch TV . . . There was a fireplace, I could smell it. I could hear that sound, you know when you move the handle to open the fireplace. It made like a creaky sound . . . and it was cold. It was always cold. And it seemed like it rained almost every night.’

‘I heard birds. I never heard anything else ……. they put the stereo right outsidemy door and . . . played it super loud.’

‘Papini said her abductors fed her once a day, maybe rice or tortillas, and Sometimes apples’

‘Papini said the women put her in a closet with a bucket with kitty litter in it for her to use as a toilet. She described the closet as containing shelves and a metal pole to which the women hooked a cable and a chain to, with the other end of the chain hooked around her waist. There was enough length on it for Papini to reach the bed, but she could not reach the door. The chain was unmovable because it was bolted into the ceiling. Papini escribed how, when she did not listen to the women, they would lock her in the closet. 

‘Papini stated that there were boards on the windows of the room she was kept in”

‘I tried to get out the first time and that’s when she branded me.’ 

Papini described how her abductors brought a table in, hit her back, and tied her to the table. When they branded Papini, her skin made “a sizzling popping sound” and it was very painful. Later in this same interview, Papini  said her abductors told her that her buyer wanted Papini branded because’ 



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