Sherri Papini: Why Did She Do It? The Perfect Wife Crime Explained

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Sherri Papini in court

The story of Sherri Papini and her fake kidnapping is documented in Hulu's latest docuseries Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini.

Papini received viral attention from the media and across socials after her three-week disappearance in November 2016. Her supposed kidnapping was eventually revealed to be nothing more than a hoax, leaving many to wonder why she did it.

Sherri Papini's Fake Kidnapping Explained

Sherri Papini in court
Sherri Papini

The alarm bells sounded for Sherri Papini's husband Kevin on November 2, 2016 as he returned home from work to her missing. He would later trace her phone using Apple's Find My iPhone feature

Sherri Papini would later resurface on November 24, 2016 on Thanksgiving, claiming to have been abducted, branded, and beaten by two Hispanic women.

But after a long investigation, these claims would later turn out false, as Papini was arrested for mail fraud and making false statements to federal law enforcement on March 3, 2022. 

She would later confess to these crimes and face 18 months in prison along with a $300,000 fine (via BBC News).

So what actually happened during Sherri Papini's three weeks of absence and why did she fake her own kidnapping?

[ Sherri Papini Now: Where Is The Perfect Wife Criminal Today? ]

Why Sherri Papini Faked Her Kidnapping

Sherri Papini was found with two DNA samples on her, a male and a female, one of which was later discovered to match her ex-boyfriend James Reyes. 

The former partner had reconnected with Papini after some contactless time, having been asked to help her escape her supposedly abusive and rapist husband.

The false kidnapping victim left her home voluntarily and spent weeks hiding out in Reyes' Costa Mesa apartment in California. According to Time, Reyes admitted to helping Papini stage her injuries using a hockey stick and pucks along with branding her on her shoulder upon request. 

During the Perfect Wife docuseries, best friend Jenifer Harrison revealed the claims Sherri made about being abused by her husband Keith, with statements along the lines of, "If I ever try to leave him, he'll kill me.”

SFGATE reported how police found interactions on Sherri's phone with two men disguised under female names. One had even traveled to meet her in 2011 during her marriage to Keith Papini and the pair “continued to exchange flirtatious text messages throughout the years.”

A second man dated Papini sometime after meeting her in 2000. He claimed her to be "attention-hungry" and to have “fabricated stories of being the victim of abuse from her family, father, and then [him] after the couple broke up.”

It appears Sherri Papini may have faked her kidnapping to escape her marriage and possibly to cover up one or multiple affairs. On top of this, Papini may have been seeking the attention that would come from being a kidnapping victim and there may have even been financial motivations involved.

Papini received $30,000 from the California Victim Compensation Board and was also said to have profited $49,070 from a GoFundMe campaign which went toward paying her various bills and personal expenses.

All three episodes of Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini are streaming now on Hulu.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.