THE life and crimes of “Gone Girl faker” Sherri Papini will be getting the Lifetime treatment this weekend – and the ex-mayor of the town she terrorized with her lies says she will be enjoying every moment of it.
Papini, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in prison back in September after pleading guilty to orchestrating an elaborate kidnapping hoax in 2016.
Dubbed a “super mom” in the press at the time, Papini vanished while out jogging in Redding, Northern California on November 2, 2016.
She then mysteriously reappeared 22 days later on Thanksgiving Day, claiming to have been abducted and held captive by two gun-wielding Hispanic women.
To sell the lie, Papini branded herself, shaved off her hair, and broke her own nose.
No arrests were ever made in the case with police struggling to find a motive for the seemingly random crime.
Following a six-year investigation, Papini was then taken into custody in March 2022 after it was found she’d actually been staying with an ex-boyfriend during the time she was believed to be missing.
The bizarre case rocked the small city of Redding, leaving residents terrified that a “boogeyman was on the loose”, according to then-mayor Missy McArthur.
Papini’s crimes are set to be rehashed in a new Lifetime movie, Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini, which will debut on the network on Jan. 28 at 8pm ET.
McArthur told The US Sun that she suspects Papini will be relishing the attention and infamy the show may bring her.
“I can’t get inside her head because I don’t think like her – clearly – but from all the indicators you can see she’s someone who definitely likes attention,” said McArthur.
“There was a lot of stuff that came up during the investigation … dating back to even high school … that showed she was somebody who always wanted the focus to be on her.
“And this is another way for her to get that.”
McArthur previously recounted to The US Sun how she met with Papini in the days after she returned home, where the mother-of-two put on an “Oscar-worthy performance”, pretending to be traumatized by the bogus ordeal.
After Sherri was finally sentenced in September, McArthur said she was relieved to see her finally held accountable for her lies.
“I think it was a reasonable outcome,” she said. “I mainly feel bad for the damage her doing this would have done to her children, because I can imagine they’ve been wounded by it.
“Especially as they get older and learn the full extent of what happened.”
Where Papini is concerned, McArthur says she doesn’t feel sorry for her at all and doesn’t buy the apology she wrote regarding her actions after she was arrested.
Papini said in a statement released by her lawyer that she was “so very sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story, and those who worked hard to try and help me.”
“I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done,” she said.
But McArthur believes Papini is only sorry she got caught.
She also doubts the community will welcome her back with open arms once she’s eventually released from prison.
“[Sherri’s] only remorseful she got caught,” said the former mayor.
“The fact she kept playing this out over and over to the police, even when it became clear they knew the truth, she continued to put out her falsehoods.
“I mean, that doesn’t sound like a remorseful person to me.”
THE GONE GIRL FAKER
The twisted saga began on Nov. 2, 2016, when Sherri vanished without a trace after leaving her Redding home to go out for a run.
She failed to pick up her kids from a daycare center later that afternoon and was reported missing the same day by her husband, Keith.
Keith told Good Morning America at the time: “Everybody who knows my wife knows that there’s no reason for her to leave… She was definitely taken against her will.”
A motorist then found Papini on November 24 in rural Yolo County, around 150 miles from her Redding home.
She was emaciated and bound at the waist by a chain, which was tethered to her left wrist with a zip tie.
Hose clamps were fixed to her ankles in what the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office later described as “pain compliance restraints.”
Papini was also covered in bruises, had her long blond hair shaved off, a “brand” on her right shoulder, and had suffered a broken nose.
She has since admitted to inflicting those wounds upon herself to substantiate her bogus claims.
After a six-year investigation, authorities determined that Papini was staying with her ex-boyfriend, James Reyes, at the time she was presumed missing.
The pair meticulously plotted the ruse on burner phones weeks before Sherri disappeared, court records say.
The bizarre case has previously been likened to the plot of the 2014 movie Gone Girl, an adaptation of a Gillian Flynn novel of the same name, in which the lead character stages her own abduction to spite her husband.
The comparison has earned Papini the unfavorable moniker, the Gone Girl Faker.
After her arrest last spring, Papini struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to two counts of mail fraud and lying to a law enforcement officer, in addition to paying a $300,000 fine.
She was sentenced to 18 months behind bars, but the judge presiding over the case voiced doubt she’d ever be able to pay off the aforementioned fine.
“I would ask rhetorically, who is going to employ her in the future?” said US District Court Judge William Shubb.
Prior to learning her fate, Papini publicly apologized in court, saying, “I am choosing to humbly accept responsibility.”
“I am guilty of lying. I am guilty of dishonor. I stand before you willing to accept, to repent, and to concede,” Papini said.
“What was done cannot be undone. It can never be erased. I am not choosing to stay frozen like I was in 2016. I am choosing to commit to healing the parts of myself that were so very broken.”
Sherri’s family stood by her account, right up until the point of her arrest.
In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook, Papini’s sister, Shelia Koester, apologized to the community of Redding for her “disturbed” sibling’s deception.
Koester said Papini only confessed the entire thing had been a ruse the day before she pleaded guilty.
“That Sherri could intentionally mislead her own beautiful children, her devoted husband, Keith, our families, the authorities, and all of you for so long is beyond comprehension and was done for reasons of which only she is aware,” Koester wrote.
“Sadly, despite what she has expressed to the media, she feels no remorse or guilt for the untold damage she has caused nor for taking advantage of critical criminal, financial, and mental health resources that should have gone to help real victims in need.
“It deeply pains me to say this, but my sister is very disturbed, and I hope, for her children’s sake, once she is released, she will finally get the treatment she clearly so desperately needs.”