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What Happened In The Sherri Papini Case? A Timeline Of The Infamous California Kidnapping Hoax

“Sherri Papini: Lies, Lies and More Lies” explores the six-year saga of a shocking kidnapping hoax.

Sherri Papini, the California woman who infamously staged her own kidnapping, began serving her 18-month sentence this month, msn.com reported.

Papini’s elaborate hoax began in early November 2016, when she vanished after going out for a run near her Redding, California home. The married stay-at-home mother of two eventually returned on Thanksgiving Day, claiming she had been abducted, then freed by her captors.

But that wasn’t the truth of what happened. It turned out she had actually been hunkering down with an ex-boyfriend, James Reyes.

With her recent sentencing and incarceration for the hoax, the case is back in the spotlight. “Sherri Papini: Lies, Lies and More Lies,” a two-part special airing December 17 at 9/8c on Oxygen, explores the shocking story in detail.

Here’s a breakdown of the timeline of the Papini case.

November 2, 2016

Sherri Papini was reported missing by her husband, Keith, who’d found her cellphone and earbuds with blonde hairs entangled in them near Sunrise Drive in Redding.

Shasta County Sheriff’s officers searched the area but found no sign of the missing woman.

Keith Papini appeared on national news days later. He said that his wife was “definitely taken against her will,” according to kcra.com.

November 24, 2016

After a frantic search and rewards for tips were announced, on Thanksgiving Day, Sherri was found safe on Interstate 5 in Woodland, California, about 150 miles from her home. 

She had a chain around her waist and injuries on her body, according to court documents. She claimed she had been abducted by two Hispanic women at gunpoint and held in a closet, according to msn.com.

November 28, 2016

Sherri applied to the California Victim Compensation Board for help. She used the $30,694.15 she received to pay her ambulance bill, therapy sessions, and home improvements.

October 2017

Shasta County Sheriff's announced that male DNA on Sherri’s clothes when she was found did not belong to her husband.

June 9, 2020

FBI special agents collected items from the garbage can outside the Reyes’ residence in Costa Mesa. 

RELATED: Sherri Papini Admits She Faked 2016 Kidnapping: ‘I Am Deeply Ashamed Of Myself’

The evidence, which included an empty tea bottle, was sent to a lab for analysis. A month later, DNA on Sherri’s clothes were linked to James Reyes.

August 10, 2020

Detectives interviewed Reyes. He said he helped Sherri go on the lam because Sherri said her husband was abusing her. He told them she was with him until she returned home on Thanksgiving Day 2016.

Reyes passed a polygraph test when he told officials what had actually happened, according to the New York Post.

March 3, 2022

Sherri Papini was arrested and charged with mail fraud and making false statements. Five days later she was released from the Sacramento County Jail on a $120,000 bond.

April 18, 2022

Sherri pleaded guilty to mail fraud and making false statements to federal officials.

She said in a statement released by her attorneys that she was “deeply ashamed,” according to PEOPLE.

April 22, 2022

Keith Papini filed for divorce and custody of the couple’s kids, reported kron4.com.

September 2022

Sherri Papini was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Her attorney had urged the court to follow a recommendation that would result in a lesser sentence. 

“Her name is now synonymous with this awful hoax,” the document read. "There is no escaping it…The lies are out, the guilt admitted, the shame universally seen."

November 2022

Sherri Papini joined the inmate population at the Federal Correctional Institution Victorville in San Bernardino County.

To learn more about this case, watch “Sherri Papini: Lies, Lies and More Lies,” airing December 17 at 9/8c on Oxygen.

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