Where Is Keith Papini Now? All About His Life After Wife Sherri Papini Faked Her Kidnapping

Hulu’s docuseries 'The Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini' takes a closer look at the 2016 event

ABC Keith and Sherri Papini take a photo together.
ABC Keith and Sherri Papini take a photo together.

It’s been nearly eight years since Sherri Papini claimed to have been kidnapped while on a morning jog in her Redding, Calif., neighborhood.

In Nov. 2016, Sherri’s husband, Keith Papini, discovered his wife was missing when he returned home from work, and she was nowhere to be found. With her car in the driveway and their two young children never having been picked up from daycare, Keith knew something was wrong. He contacted police, beginning what would become a widespread search for the missing “super mom.”

Over the next 22 days, Sherri’s story captivated the nation as friends, family and authorities tried to track down any leads for her whereabouts. Then, on Thanksgiving day, Sherri mysteriously reappeared on the side of a rural road, 150 miles from where she vanished. She was emaciated and badly beaten, left with bruises and bound with a chain around her waist.

With Sherri back home, investigators turned their attention toward finding her two female abductors, who she said took her at gunpoint on her morning jog in early November. But over the course of the next six years, no suspects were arrested — because it turned out that Sherri’s kidnapping had all been a hoax.

In 2022, Sherri was officially arrested for making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud. Shortly after, Keith filed for divorce and for custody of their two kids. Since then, Sherri has served her time in jail and at a halfway house, all while Keith has rebuilt his life and told his side of the story in the Hulu docuseries Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini, premiering June 20.

So what happened to Keith Papini? Here’s everything to know about where he is now and how Sherri Papini's fake disappearance impacted him.

Who are Keith and Sherri Papini?

Keith and Sherri Papini with their children.
Keith and Sherri Papini with their children.

Prior to Sherri’s disappearance, she and her husband, Keith, were a typical family living outside Redding, Calif. They originally met in middle school and after reconnecting in 2006, they tied the knot three years later. They went on to welcome two children — a son named Tyler, followed by their daughter, Violet.

While Keith worked as an audiovisual specialist at Best Buy, Sherri had previously been an account executive for AT&T, per The Sacramento Bee. After being laid off, Sherri shifted her attention toward her family, becoming a stay-at-home mom for her kids.

Before her disappearance, Keith called her a “super mom.”

“She wakes up in the morning, has her kids dressed, their meals planned out for them and their activities for the day. And not just that, she’s just a super wife," he said during an appearance on 20/20.

What happened to Sherri Papini?

GoFundMe Sherri Papini poses for a photo outdoors.
GoFundMe Sherri Papini poses for a photo outdoors.

Nothing seemed unusual on the morning of Nov. 2, 2016, the day that Sherri disappeared. Looking back on 20/20, Keith shared that he saw his wife just before 7 a.m. as he was leaving for his job at Best Buy. It would be the last time he saw her for over 20 days.

Sherri later dropped the couple’s children off at daycare and texted Keith around 10:47 a.m., asking if he was coming home for lunch. The last time that she was seen was around 11 a.m. by neighbors who saw her running down the street. Keith believed that she left the house to go on a run, during which she was kidnapped.

Keith discovered Sherri was missing when he returned home from work that evening. As he entered the family’s home, he says he was surprised his children didn’t run to the front door to greet him as usual.

He began to search around the house and in the yard but was unable to locate Sherri and the kids. He turned to his iPhone to track Sherri’s location, which showed up near their mailbox — about a mile away from their home. When he arrived there, his family was still nowhere to be found.

After calling Sherri’s mom, who hadn’t spoken to her daughter, he contacted their daycare center and learned that his children hadn't been picked up. Soon after, he discovered Sherri’s phone lying in the grass near their mailbox, with her headphones nearby, intertwined with blonde hair, as if they’d been grabbed.

Keith called 911, beginning a nearly month-long search for the missing mom.

How did Keith Papini react to Sherri Papini's disappearance?

<p>Andrew Seng/The Sacramento Bee/AP</p> A missing sign for Sherri Papini is placed along side Sunrise Drive on November 10, 2016.

Andrew Seng/The Sacramento Bee/AP

A missing sign for Sherri Papini is placed along side Sunrise Drive on November 10, 2016.

Within hours after Keith’s call to authorities, a team was mobilized to search for Sherri. Friends, family and community members joined in on the hunt to find her. For the next several weeks, Keith and the team searched everywhere while investigators looked into hundreds of tips, searched for security footage and examined cell data, computers and phone records.

At the time, authorities were unsure if Sherri had been kidnapped or if she had voluntarily left. For a period of time, Keith was even considered a suspect but he consented to a polygraph test, and his name was eventually cleared. Amid doubts, he continued to make media appearances, pleading with possible kidnappers to return Sherri home.

Reflecting on his thoughts at the time, Keith told 20/20, “I’m just wondering about her health. Are they feeding her? Is she hot? Is she cold? ... I thought about her being there screaming my name, and I wasn't there and that really ... got to me.”

As he continued trying different search efforts, his wife mysteriously reappeared. In the early hours of Nov. 24, 2016, a woman spotted Sherri on the side of a rural road near Sacramento, Calif. — about 150 miles from her home in Redding — and called the police.

Authorities found Sherri bound with restraints and a California Highway Patrol called Keith to inform him that Sherri had been found, and he was able to hear her voice for the first time in 22 days.

“I get the phone and, [said], ‘Oh my God, honey.’ And of course she’s screaming,” he recalled on 20/20. “It’s very emotional. And, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, Oh my God, you’re here. You’re back. Where are you?’ ... I’m panicked but I’m happy because at this point this is the first time I’ve heard her voice. I know she’s alive.”

She was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for her injuries. During her time away, Sherri lost 15 percent of her body weight, her long hair got chopped off and she had scars.

“My first sight was my wife in a hospital bed. Her face covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of her repeated beatings. The bridge of her nose broken,” Keith wrote in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “She has been branded and I could feel the rise of her scabs under my fingers.”

Sherri was later permitted to return home to focus on her “long road” to recovery.

Did Keith Papini know Sherri Papini's faked her kidnapping?

Courtesy Keith Papini Sherri Papini poses for a photo with Keith Papini.
Courtesy Keith Papini Sherri Papini poses for a photo with Keith Papini.

Following Sherri’s return home, investigators began interviewing her to uncover what had happened. While she appeared to be dealing with trauma at first, she eventually recounted being abducted by two women who had their faces covered and spoke mostly in Spanish.

Over the next three weeks, Sherri alleged that she was beaten and kept locked in a room with only a bucket filled with kitty litter for a toilet, per The Sacramento Bee. She was fed “stale bread, beans, tortillas, leftover meat and apples” and was subject to mental torture. Sherri claimed that she was told she would eventually be sold as a slave to a cop.

Then, the day before she was set free, Sherri alleged that she heard a gunshot. One of the captors later forced her into a car, and she was dropped off on the side of the road. However, as the investigation continued, the media and authorities began to doubt the validity of her story.

Through it all, she and Keith tried to stay out of the public eye while “putting their lives back together.” He even called the rumors and assumptions “exhausting and disgusting.”

Speaking to PEOPLE in 2024 about his thought process at the time, Keith explained, "Sherri wrote me songs. She wrote me cards. I felt loved and even if that wasn't true, I didn't see how it's possible she would leave the kids."

While he strongly believed his wife, it turned out that nothing about her kidnapping had been true.

It was in the spring of 2017 that investigators began to have serious doubts about the kidnapping. The piece of evidence that made it truly apparent was the DNA found on the sweatpants and underwear Sherri was wearing when she was found. Investigators knew it didn’t belong to a female, but it wasn’t until 2019 that Capt. Jackson of the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and his partners at the FBI uncovered the truth.

After requesting a “familial DNA” search, a technique that searches offender DNA databases for a relative of an unknown perpetrator, the DNA was linked to a potential male relative — and that family member was related to an ex-boyfriend of Sherri. In June 2020, authorities collected a DNA sample from James Reyes and it matched the DNA found on Sherri’s clothing.

On Aug. 10, 2020, investigators interviewed Reyes, and he confessed to assisting Sherri “run away” because she alleged that Keith had abused her. They had concocted a plan using prepaid mobile phones, and on the day Sherri disappeared, he picked her up in Redding. During the time that Sherri was believed to be missing, she was staying at his apartment in Costa Mesa, Calif.

While staying with Reyes, he claims Sherri was “purposefully trying to lose weight,” chopped off her own hair and “created the injuries ... including hitting herself to create bruises and burning herself on her arms.” Reyes also allegedly told investigators he “wasn’t sure of Papini’s intentions during her stay with him, but he believed they might end up in a romantic relationship again.”

Then, just before Thanksgiving Day in 2016, Sherri shared that she missed her children and wanted to go home. Reyes drove her back to Northern California and dropped her off in the area where she was found.

What did Keith Papini say about the kidnapping hoax?

<p>Rich Pedroncelli/AP</p> Sherri Papini leaves the federal courthouse in Sacremento, California on September 19, 2022.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Sherri Papini leaves the federal courthouse in Sacremento, California on September 19, 2022.

In Aug. 2020, Sherri was presented with evidence that she was not abducted, but she continued to tell her falsified version of events. Then, on March 3, 2022, Papini was arrested and charged with making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud.

In addition to lying, Sherri had also accepted more than $30,000 in victim assistance from the California Victim’s Compensation Board between 2017 and 2021, which covered her hospitalization and visits to her therapist.

That same day, investigators informed Keith about the evidence and their conclusion that no kidnapping had taken place. Upon hearing their final findings, he expressed a mix of emotions.

"I'm the idiot husband that stayed around the whole time," Keith told investigators in a video shown on a 2022 episode of 20/20. "Now you are telling me, 'OK, you can go home now,' Well, do you think I want her anywhere around my kids or around me at all at this point?”

He added, "I don't know what the next stages of this are. It's not us together. I can tell you that much. I'm in shock."

In his 2024 interview with PEOPLE, Keith revealed that he kicked Sherri out of the house, and although he let her return after one day, he said it wasn't the same between them. “She’d say, ‘I love you. I didn’t do anything. I told you they’re messing with us — they’re trying to pit us against each other,’ ” he recalled.

After being arrested, Sherri was released on $120,000 bail under the conditions that she could only travel within one part of California, had to surrender her passport and undergo psychiatric treatment. Then, in April 2022, Sherri signed a plea agreement in which she pled guilty to counts of lying to a federal officer and mail fraud and agreed to pay more than $300,000 in restitution to various government entities.

In September 2022, Sherri was officially sentenced to 18 months in prison and spent less than a year in jail before being transferred to a residential reentry facility in Sacramento County. Fast forward, in October 2023, she was released from a halfway house, where she had been under community confinement. She is currently on supervised release until 2026 and still owes more than $300,000 in restitution.

Are Keith and Sherri Papini still married?

Courtesy Keith Papini Sherri Papini and her husband Keith Papini pose for a photo.
Courtesy Keith Papini Sherri Papini and her husband Keith Papini pose for a photo.

In April 2022, shortly after Sherri was arrested and pled guilty, Keith filed for divorce and asked for sole custody of the couple’s children.

In a statement to PEOPLE, he shared that he was doing his best to protect their son and daughter.

“I wish to make it clear that my goal is to provide a loving, safe, stable environment for [our children] and I believe the requested orders are consistent with that goal and the best interests of the children," he said. "I do not want to say anything in the pleadings connected to this matter that would inflame the situation or attract media attention."

Amid divorce proceedings, Keith was granted temporary custody of the children. Over the years, the former couple have appeared in court a few times. Ultimately, though, Sherri and Keith's marriage was dissolved in May 2023.

According to Keith, he doesn't speak to Sherri outside of court or mediation.

Related: Where Is Sherri Papini Now? What to Know About Her Life After 2016 Kidnapping Hoax

Where is Keith Papini now?

ABC News/"20/20" Keith Papini during an interview on the ABC show '20/20.'
ABC News/"20/20" Keith Papini during an interview on the ABC show '20/20.'

After Sherri’s arrest and subsequent guilty plea in 2022, Keith shared that he and their children had been “traumatized” by the experience following his wife’s disappearance. Even in the years after Sherri’s return, he admitted that the fallout had “kept life in turmoil” for the family.

"The trauma inflicted on our children at the unexpected loss of their mother was heartbreaking," Keith wrote in a declaration for the Shasta County Family Court.

Then, once Sherri was sentenced, Keith offered a statement to PEOPLE, sharing how stunned he was about all that had transpired.

“The events of the past two months have been shocking and devastating," he said. "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."

Since then, Keith has been granted full custody of their children, and Sherri has monthly supervised visits. In their day-to-day life, Keith continues to try to give "them a happy and healthy life ... surrounding them with loving people."

In 2024, he shared with PEOPLE that Tyler and Violet are "thriving" in school and participate in different activities, like basketball and dance lessons.

As for what he believes the motive was behind Sherri's fake kidnapping nearly a decade ago, Keith has made peace with the unknown.

“I’ve accepted that I will never know the truth. No one ever will," he said.

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Read the original article on People.