Why did Sherri Papini fake her kidnapping? The theories detailed

Sherri Papini

Sherri Papini’s staged disappearance is back in the limelight following the premiere of Lifetime’s Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini. She vanished in November 2016, reappearing three weeks later with various injuries and burns. Papini said two Hispanic women had kidnapped her, tied her to a pole, and tortured her before dumping her on the side of a highway. 

An investigation aided by DNA evidence revealed that as the community searched desperately for her, she was staying with her ex-boyfriend nearly 600 miles away from her home. 

Judge William B. Shubb sentenced Papini to 18 months in prison after she pled guilty to making false statements and mail fraud. 

Sherri Papini didn’t explain her staged disappearance, but people have theories explaining her actions

Sherri Papini didn’t offer a compelling explanation for her actions. Her lawyer, William Portanova, speculated that Papini likely didn’t know why she abandoned her family, tortured herself to make it look like she’d endured traumatic abuse, and blamed everything on imaginary Hispanic abductors.

Mental health illness experts opined that Papini’s behavior didn’t conform to a specific condition. “It’s a mistake to assume mental illness is the cause of unusual behavior,” Dr. Ian Lamoureux, a forensic psychiatrist, told ABC affiliate KRCR

Lamoureux stated that the organization and planning of the disappearance seemed to rule out conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. He speculated that Papini craved attention, an assertion supported by the FBI’s criminal complaint against Papini. 

According to The Guardian, the FBI quoted several people who claimed Papini occasionally told lies to attract attention. An ex-husband reportedly said that she had ‘fabricated stories about being the victim of abuse’. 

Another popular theory alleged that she hoped to profit from the saga; Papini benefited financially to the tune of $200,000. She agreed to repay the money, but Judge Shubb said Papini is unlikely to do so ‘unless she wins the lottery’. 

Jaime King told E! News that one of the reasons why she accepted the role of Papini in Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini was because she wanted to understand why Papini faked her disappearance. King said she was appalled by the media’s portrayal of Papini. 

“She did make some horrific choices, absolutely,” King said. “But I felt like everybody has a reason for doing something. No one is a perfect individual. I just really needed to know more of the whys. I just don’t like people being exploited.”