Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini (2023 Lifetime)

Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini (2023 Lifetime)

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Cast: Jaime King, Matt Hamilton, Lossen Chambers,

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The Hillsdale Adoption Scam Lifetime Movie, Keshia Knight Pulliam, and KitchenAid Mixers? Lifetime Uncorked

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

After Sherri Papini went for a run and didn’t come home in 2016, the heat was on to find the mother of two. The Northern California missing-person case quickly became a national story–true crime aficionados couldn’t talk about anything but the “supermom”, especially after she returned and her story about being abducted wasn’t adding up. Sherri was found 22 days after her disappearance on the side of the highway–her face bruised, hair haphazardly cut, and with a chain around her waist and wrists. She claimed to have been taken by two Hispanic women and that she was chained to a bed, forced to pee in a litter box, and branded after she tried to escape. But after months of being unable to find any evidence, the police discovered that Sherri had not been kidnapped at all; she spent the three weeks with her ex-boyfriend in his Costa Mesa, CA cabin. Stars Jaime King, Matt Hamilton, Lossen Chambers, Andy Thompson and Arpad Balogh (2023).

Recap/Wine Thoughts

This is a proper Ripped from the Headlines movie, even though I don’t remember the case of Sherri Papini.

The movie starts with Sherri on the side of the road screaming for help.

Cut to pre-fake kidnapping, where Sherri lives a privileged but boring life. She throws her daughter an elaborate birthday party and pretends to have the perfect marriage. Keith is distracted and leaves Sherri unsatisfied. She feels like her husband doesn’t see her and has a meltdown when the bouncy castle at the party deflates. 

Sherri asks her husband to have a day job to help pay the bills. Keith tells her that her career is staying home and caring for the kids, which she does to a perfectionist level. Keith does ask his boss for a raise tho, so they need money.

In the middle of the day, Sherri texts Keith that she wants to have sex with him. He declines the offer, so Sherri goes for a run and never comes back. Her phone is found on a running trail, and she is missing. 

Keith tracks the phone and calls the police. The detectives find no signs of a struggle and question Keith. He doesn’t know what to do or what to tell his kids, eventually settling on saying Sherri went on a trip. 

Meanwhile, Sherri is in her new home with her high school boyfriend, Chris, and a ton of goldfish. It doesn’t take her long to figure out Chris is a loser with a dirty ass house. (She cleans top to bottom.)

With his wife gone, Keith gets a wake-up call and realizes all his wife did for him and his children. He even struggles to get them to school. Sherri’s estranged mother helps him take care of the kids, and they are confused because they never see her.

Keith puts up flyers, takes a polygraph, and talks to the press. He turns out to be a devoted and genuine husband.

Sherri starts to miss her kids and becomes annoyed with Chris. She obsessively watches the news coverage about her and goes a little stir-crazy. She looks up articles about herself and watches videos of Keith crying and pleading for her safe return. Chris assures her that they are doing the right thing. 

A video of Sherri’s mom is posted online, and it surprises Sherri to see her mom helping out and taking care of the kids. Sherri realizes she has made a mistake running off with Chris. 

To get back to her family, Sherri has Chris brand her with a hot poker and shoot hockey pucks at her to make it look like she has been beaten badly.

She returns on Thanksgiving day, picked up by a stranger on the road. She claims to have been kidnapped by two Mexican women who used to be in law enforcement. Sherri goes on to describe the women in detail that are kind of racists. The detectives are not buying it, and the DNA evidence doesn’t add up, either.  

It is a media circus outside of the family home. Sherri basks in the love that she receives from everyone who missed her, but something seems off. Sherri doesn’t want to sell her story to anyone and wants to live off of the GoFundMe money raised to find her and move on.

The detective on the case is not letting this one go and interviews Sherri again. The details are random and don’t make sense. Sherri explains that she was tased a lot in captivity. 

“Tragedy Groupies” tell Sherri that she is an inspiration. 

Keith and Sherri celebrate seven years of marriage with a typically perfect party. Sherri starts getting mixed up her details and her friends start questioning if she is telling the truth. So do members of her PTSD group sessions. 

It doesn’t take long for Sherri’s past to come to haunt her in the form of an ex-husband who claims she is a compulsive liar. There is also a blog post Sherri wrote under her maiden name where she says racist stuff, and it isn’t a good look. 

Keith asks probing questions and pokes holes in Sherri’s story. She makes up new lies that he demands she take to the police. They show Sherri a police report from Sherri’s mother where the police find she beat herself up and blamed it on her mother.

Six Months later, Detectives interview Chris’ cousin. He shares that he saw Sherri at his cousin’s house but kept it to himself. This leads the detective to Chris. He tells them everything.

Chris and Sherri planned everything on burner phones. He thought Sherri’s mother and husband her beating her, and he was saving her from a bad situation. 

Detectives bring the information to Sherri and Keith, and Sherri denies everything. Keith can’t believe what he is hearing and abandons his racist wife. He files for divorce and takes the kids. (As he should!)

Outside of her child’s school, the police arrest Sherri. She is responsible for wasting $150,000 of resources. In court, she pleads guilty. She serves 18 months in prison and has to pay restitution. She is currently in jail. 

Side Note

Pretty dull Lifetime movie. We don’t really get into the motives for Sherri to fake her own kidnapping. 

Minority Report: Detective Molly,

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Overall rating 

Number of Kills: 

None (0 Knives)

Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale) 


Should you watch it?

Pour it up! (Give it a shot)

Put a Cork in It (Skip It)

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel

*Photo Credit: © 2023 Lifetime® | A+E Networks®

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