A California mother accused of faking her own kidnapping “certainly didn’t pull it off by herself” and further charges are likely, the sheriff who investigated the case said on Monday.
Sherri Papini, 39, was arrested last Thursday, five years after she claimed to have been abducted at gun point by two Hispanic women near her home in Redding and tortured for 22 days.
In a detailed 55-page charging document, the FBI said in reality Ms Papini had stayed with an ex-boyfriend who confessed to his role in the alleged plot after law enforcement matched his DNA to Ms Papini’s clothing.
Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson told good morning america he believed further charges were likely.
“It’s going to go to the grand jury they’ll dole out the indictments but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised because she certainly didn’t pull it off by herself and there were other people involved,” Sheriff Johnson told GMA.
“It is a case of calculated deception, driven by her narcissistic behavior and it really had an impact on this community and nationwide.”
After the case made national headlines, a GoFundMe account set up by Ms Papini’s husband Keith raised $49,000.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr Papini used $8,000 from the fundraising effort to pay off a credit card.
Ms. Papini was paid $30,000 by the state’s victim compensation fund.
Sheriff Johnson told The Independent on Friday that he believed Mr Papini and the couple’s two children were innocent victims in the plot.
“It is a case of calculated deception, driven by her narcissistic behavior and it really had an impact on this community and nationwide.” — Shasta County sheriff on the arrest of Sherri Papini, who they believe faked her own abduction of her in November 2016. https://t.co/kWY5S6eOU4 pic.twitter.com/2NGCKUc2kC
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 7, 2022
Ms Papini disappeared while jogging near her home in Redding, Northern California, on November 2, 2016.
She turned up three weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, alongside a highway about 150 miles (241 kilometers) from her home. She had a “brand” on her right shoulder along with burns and bruises.
She described in great detail to police her abduction at gunpoint and abusive treatment by two women, who she claimed had made her wear an adult diaper, played “that really annoying Mexican music”, fed her “leftover crap” and directed insults at her in Spanish.
A massive manhunt was launched for the kidnappers, whose description as Hispanic stoked racial tension in the town, Sheriff Johnson told The Independent.
After an exhaustive investigation, authorities charged Ms Papini with mail fraud and lying to a federal agent last week.
In a statement released through a publicist, Ms Papini’s family said they were “confused by several aspects” of the accounts and were critical of how she was taken into custody.
“We love Sherri and are appalled by the way in which law enforcement ambushed her… in a dramatic and unnecessary manner in front of her children,” he said.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.