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Sheriff ‘Wouldn’t Be Surprised’ If More People Are Charged In 2016 Sherri Papini Kidnapping Hoax Case

The sheriff overseeing the investigation into Sherri Papini’s alleged kidnapping hoax said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if others are arrested in the case.

Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson said he “definitely wouldn’t be surprised if other people were charged in this charade, because there were other people in the know and there were other people involved,” according to Inside Edition.

Papini disappeared for three weeks in November 2016 before being found on the side of a highway with a chain around her waist and a “brand” on her shoulder, which she said was done by her kidnappers. Police now say that Papini faked the kidnapping and was, in reality, staying with an ex-boyfriend the whole time and asked him to brand her with a wood-burning tool.

Johnson also said he didn’t think Papini’s husband was involved in the staged disappearance, and the ex-boyfriend has not been charged.

Johnson also told “Good Morning America” that Papini’s hoax was “a case of calculated deception driven, I think, by her narcissistic behavior, and it really had an impact on this community and nationwide as far as that goes.”

He added that the time and money spent trying to find Papini hurt real victims.

“Human trafficking is a real thing and there are victims out there that need our help,” he told GMA. “Investigations are complex and budgets are tight, so when we put all that effort into such a case and find out that things are not what they seem and we’ve been deceived and law enforcement has been duped, it’s really taxing on everybody.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported, Papini, a mother of two, was arrested in 2020 for lying to investigators after she was presented with evidence that she had faked the kidnapping and defrauded California out of more than $30,000 in victim assistance.

Papini originally told investigators that two Hispanic women kept her captive at gunpoint, and even worked with an FBI sketch artist to come up with images of the two women, which police used to search for them. It was DNA from her clothing that ultimately unraveled her story. DNA had been collected and put into a database that was routinely checked, NBC reported. It was this DNA that led to Papini’s ex-boyfriend.

When questioned, the ex-boyfriend, who has not been charged and thus has not been named, told investigators that Papini had told him she needed help and to get away, so he agreed to pick her up in Redding, California, and let her stay with him the entire time she was missing, according to FBI documents. The ex-boyfriend told investigators he didn’t know what Papini’s “final plan was” or if the situation meant they were getting back together.

The ex also said that Papini asked him to brand her using a wood-burning tool and eventually asked him to drive her back to Northern California.

“Investigators say the ex-boyfriend’s story was corroborated with car rental receipts and phone records, and the ex-boyfriend knew details not known to the public,” NBC News reported. “The ex-boyfriend told investigators he initially thought he was just helping a friend, but after seeing the news about the later kidnapping claims he got worried, according to the affidavit.”

The ex-boyfriend did not contact authorities when he learned about the fake kidnappings, but told investigators that he planned to cooperate when they eventually came looking for him.

Papini was interviewed again in August 2020, nearly four years after her disappearance, but again claimed she had been kidnapped by two women with a gun. She also denied staying with her ex after investigators asked her about the claim.

Papini was charged with making false statements and mail fraud. If convicted on the false statement charges, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. She faces an additional 20 years in prison and another $250,000 fine if she is convicted of mail fraud.

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