“To Have And To Hoax”: ’20/20′ Reports on Sherri Papini Case June 28 2024

Catch the riveting full episode of “20/20: To Have And To Hoax” airing Friday, June 28th, 2024, at 9/8c on ABC. This special episode dives deep into the shocking case of Sherri Papini, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances and reappeared weeks later, claiming abduction. Sherri Papini’s story captured global attention, but as details unfolded, skepticism grew. Now, for the first time since her arrest, Keith Papini speaks out in an exclusive ABC News interview. Discover the truth behind the elaborate hoax that deceived authorities and the public alike.

Background of Sherri Papini

Sherri Louise Graeff was born on June 11, 1982. She married Keith Papini in October 2009, and the couple had two children together, a son and a daughter. On November 2, 2016, Sherri Papini, then 34 years old, disappeared while out jogging near her home in Redding, California. She reappeared three weeks later on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, claiming she had been abducted by two Hispanic women.

Sherri’s story of abduction included numerous inconsistencies that raised doubts among law enforcement and the public. Despite these inconsistencies, she maintained her story when questioned by authorities. Between 2017 and 2021, she received over $30,000 from the California Victim Compensation Board. The truth about her disappearance, however, would soon unravel, leading to significant legal consequences.

Disappearance and Reappearance

Sherri Papini’s husband, Keith, became concerned when he returned home from work on November 2, 2016, and found her missing. He used the “Find My iPhone” application to locate her cell phone and earbuds at an intersection about a mile from their home. Sherri was found three weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, on the side of a road in Yolo County, approximately 150 miles from where she disappeared. She was still wearing restraints and had multiple injuries, including a brand on her shoulder.

Sherri claimed she was held captive by two Hispanic women who took steps to conceal their identities. She described being physically abused, having her hair cut off, and being branded. The details of her captivity, however, were vague and lacked solid evidence. Investigators remained skeptical and continued to probe her story.

Investigation and Skepticism

Law enforcement experts expressed doubts about Sherri’s story due to the unlikely details and inconsistencies. The investigation included numerous search warrants and examinations of cellphone records, bank accounts, email, and social media profiles. The FBI also provided assistance in the case. DNA evidence found on Sherri’s clothing eventually linked her to an ex-boyfriend, James Reyes, who confirmed she had been staying with him during the time she was supposedly missing.

In August 2020, Sherri maintained her story when questioned by a federal agent and a Shasta County Sheriff’s Office detective. Despite the mounting evidence against her, she continued to claim she had been abducted. However, on March 3, 2022, she was arrested on federal charges for fabricating the abduction and lying to federal agents.

Prosecution, Guilty Plea, and Sentence

On March 3, 2022, Sherri Papini was arrested by the FBI and accused of faking her kidnapping to spend time with her ex-boyfriend. In April 2022, she pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements and one count of mail fraud. She admitted to orchestrating the hoax, and thirty-three other counts of mail fraud were dropped as part of a plea agreement. Following her guilty plea, her husband filed for divorce.

In September 2022, Sherri was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $309,902 in restitution. She was released from prison in August 2023 and placed in a halfway house. Her attorney cited past mental health issues as contributors to her actions. Despite her apology and acceptance of responsibility during the sentencing hearing, the case left a lasting impact on her family and the public.

Keith Papini’s Revelation and Custody Battle

Keith Papini, who initially supported his wife, revealed in a new interview and a Hulu documentary that Sherri had a history of exaggerating and lying. He disclosed that Sherri would intentionally make their children sick by having them inhale fumes from rubbing alcohol. This revelation came to light after Sherri’s imprisonment for the kidnapping hoax.

Keith now has sole custody of their two children, while Sherri is allowed supervised visits once a month. He is fighting for more access, but Keith insists that Sherri undergo a psychological evaluation and be barred from unsupervised visits. The case has left Keith and his children grappling with the emotional aftermath of Sherri’s actions.


“20/20: To Have And To Hoax” offers a comprehensive look into the case of Sherri Papini, from her disappearance to the revelation of her elaborate hoax. The episode provides insights into the investigation, the legal proceedings, and the impact on those involved. Sherri Papini’s story serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of deception and the far-reaching effects it can have on individuals and their families.

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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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