His ex-wife faked her own disappearance. Why Keith Papini is speaking out now

Keith Papini, the ex-husband of Sherri Papini, is addressing ex-wife’s infamous kidnapping hoax in a new, three-part Hulu documentary, “The Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini."

In 2016, Sherri Papini disappeared from her home in Redding, California. About three weeks later, she was discovered along an interstate with serious injuries, claiming she had been kidnapped and tortured.

Keith and Sherri Papini (Hulu)
Keith and Sherri Papini (Hulu)

Six years later, however — and after authorities had spent years and poured substantial resources into tracking down her alleged captors — Papini admitted she had faked her own abduction. During the weeks she was missing that November, she had actually been staying with an ex-boyfriend, NBC News reported authorities saying in 2022.

She had maintained the lie even among her closest family members, including her husband and their young son and daughter.

In April 2022, Papini pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements and one count of mail fraud, and was later sentenced to 18 months in prison.

In a recent interview, Keith Papini opened up about how his ex-wife had deceived him for so long.

“She made us all believe that her story was true. Every single day, she committed to the lie,” he said in a June 17 interview on “Good Morning America.”

He also shared that he had originally wondered if his ex-wife was lying about her kidnapping, but quickly felt guilty for doubting her story.

“When I pulled back the curtains and I saw her, and I saw the look in her eyes, I felt in that moment that she was lying,” he said. “And it wasn’t until when I really got close and I could just see the amount of injuries, bruises, burns to her body, and it was a shock to me, and I remember thinking, how horrible of me to even think she could do this to herself.”

He also explained why he wanted to speak out about his experiences now.

“I wanted to get the truth out there and really wanted to let everybody know how convincing Sherri was all those years and how I believed everything she was telling me,” he said.

Read on to learn more about what Keith Papini has said about his ex-wife’s hoax, and how it has affected him and his children.

What has Keith Papini said about the aftermath of ex-wife’s hoax?

Following his ex-wife’s sentencing in 2022, Keith Papini shared a brief statement about how he was doing after her hoax came to light.

“The events of the past two months have been shocking and devastating,” he said in a statement provided to NBC News. “My current focus is on moving on and doing everything I can to provide my two children with as normal, healthy and happy of a life as possible.”

Keith and Sherri Papini share a son, 11, and a daughter, 9.

Keith Papini shared, in a 2022 court document, that his ex-wife’s deception had affected his family’s life for years.

“For a substantial time we received anonymous messages, hate mail and even death threats,” reads the document, which was shared by the Sacramento Bee. “The public scrutiny and the continuing investigation by both the Local Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation kept life in turmoil for five and a half years.”

Keith Papini also told “Good Morning America” that Sherri Papini has never apologized directly to him or their children.

“She has no remorse that I have ever witnessed or seen,” he said.

He added that his ex-wife’s actions will have a lasting impact on him and his family.

“I think it’s always going to be there. We do want to move past it. I do want to provide my children an amazing childhood, but I think it will always be there,” he said.

When did Keith Papini divorce Sherri Papini?

Keith Papini filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences, on April 20, 2022, soon after Sherri Papini pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and making false statements.

The couple had separated on March 3 of that year, according to a court document requesting dissolution of their marriage obtained by NBC News. They had been married since 2009.

In his court filing, Keith Papini requested that he not be required to pay Sherri Papini any spousal support.

He also included a list of his own separate assets, including multiple properties and vehicles, miscellaneous furniture, bank accounts and investment accounts, among other assets.

The court document noted that Sherri Papini’s “separate property and obligations” would include “any obligations arising from her criminal behavior.”

A contentious and ongoing legal battle has ensued, with the former couple arguing in court over finances.

Sherri Papini was represented in her divorce proceedings by the California law firm Kinney & Kinney, the Sacramento Bee reported in March 2024. It is unclear whether she is still currently represented by this firm. TODAY.com has reached out to Kinney & Kinney for comment.

In March, federal officials applied for a writ of garnishment against Papini and Kinney & Kinney, seeking the recovery of more than $340,000, according to a court document obtained by NBC News.

This amount included the roughly $309,000 in restitution Papini had been ordered to pay as part of her criminal case, plus a litigation surcharge.

Authorities named Kinney & Kinney in the document because they claimed Papini had a substantial amount of money “in the possession, custody or control” of the law firm.

Does Keith Papini have full custody of their children?

Keith Papini requested sole legal and physical custody of their son and daughter on April 15, 2022, according to a court document shared by the Sacramento Bee.

“I must act decisively to protect my children from the trauma caused by their mother and bring stability and calm to their lives,” he stated in the document.

The document said their children had been “traumatized” by their mother’s deception.

“The children have now learned that their mother lied to them about her disappearance, lied to them about how she was abused by two Hispanic women, and lied to them about her arrest,” he wrote. “The fact that their mother lied to them on such a major issue is something they, and I, are having a hard time dealing with. We, both children and I, need time to recover and stabilize.”

Keith Papini requested that his ex-wife be granted visitation rights, carried out in whatever way he deemed in the children’s best interest.

“I believe that the record is clear that Sherri has some significant mental health issues that I do not believe are resolved or even fully understood,” he stated in the court document.

“Considering how upset the children are about what their mother has done and that is unknown how she is going to reconcile her misconduct toward them in developing an ongoing relationship, at least in the immediate future, I believe that some type of supervised visitation is the most appropriate,” he continued.

When Keith Papini filed for divorce a few days later, his petition included a request for a temporary emergency court order to gain custody of their two children.

The temporary order, which was filed in April 2022 and obtained by NBC News, requested “visitation to be within Father’s discretion pending further court order.”

The order also stated that “Mother may have telephone and/or videocalls within reasonable frequency and duration as coordinated between the parties” and noted that “Father may supervise calls.”

Keith Papini said, in a June 2024 interview with the TV Insider, that the children are in contact with their mother.

“They speak to her on the phone once a month or every other week. Shortly, it’ll be every week, so let me just say they speak to her every week, and they see her in a professionally supervised visitation once a month,” he said.

Keith Papini said he hasn’t “dwelled” on the disappearance with his kids. “My kids are individually such amazing kids that I think when that time comes, I feel they’ll come to me,” he said.

Are Keith Papini and Sherri Papini in touch?

Keith Papini told TV Insider that he and his ex-wife are not on speaking terms.

”I don’t speak to her at all whatsoever,” he said, calling their relationship “non-existent.”

“That communication we have is setting up phone calls or rescheduling phone calls. It’s not through voice,” he said.

As for whether he could ever forgive Sherri Papini? “I don’t think so,” he said.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com