The lasting impact of Sherri Papini’s fake kidnapping

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The disappearance of a Northern California woman more than five years ago has shocked the tight-knit community of Redding, California.

The disappearance of Sherri Papini sparked a frantic three-week search. Neighbors volunteered for grid searches, and law enforcement made finding Papini a top priority.

“There was extreme pressure on law enforcement,” Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson said.

Papini, a mother and a wife, had disappeared during a jog. The conditions of his disappearance put the neighbors in suspense.

“We used to walk and my husband and I said, ‘I’m not going to walk alone anymore,'” said Redding resident Maria Flores.

Private investigator Bill Garcia was so concerned about Papini that he offered his services to his family.

“It scared, especially other women, that it could happen to them,” Garcia said.

She was found bruised and beaten on Thanksgiving Day in 2016. Papini told authorities she was kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women.

She accused the women of brutally torturing her. The hunt was on and new fears were creeping into Redding, where Latinos made up less than 10% of the population.

“She specifically chose a gender in a race to name as a suspect. Any Hispanic woman at that point, I’m sure, raises her eyebrows and looks in there wondering where she might be connected or one of the suspects,” Johnson said.

For many Latinos in the area, the more they heard of Papini’s story, the less they bought him.

“When they do the sketches, like she has a bandana on, come on, we don’t walk around like that. We know the people in our community,” said radio host Araceli Gutierrez.

Ultimately, investigators revealed there was no abduction after reviewing DNA evidence, cellphone tracking and interviews with one of her ex-boyfriends.

The resources that were used throughout the investigation ended up costing taxpayers approximately $230,000. This is money that could have been used for other missing women investigations.

Papini agreed on Tuesday to plead guilty to charges of lying to federal agents and mail fraud. She has not yet been sentenced.

In a statement through his lawyer, Papini said: “I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and am so sorry for the pain I have caused my family, friends, all good people. who have suffered unnecessarily because of my story and those who have worked so hard to try to help me.

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