Sherri Papini was allegedly kidnapped and apparently hold in captivity for 22 days.
Sherri and Keith Papini
On november 2, 2016, Keith Papini reported his wife Sherri missing. On november 10, Keith Papini took a lie detector test. Around 4.30 am on november 24, Thanksgiving day, Sherri was rescued by a motorist at the intersection of I-5 and County Road 17, more than 150 miles away from her home.
After his wife was found, Keith Papini released a statement to the US media and an interview to Matthew Gutman of America’s ABC 20/20.
Matt Gutman and Keith Papini
Keith Papini, during the interview, shows deception and frames himself with his own words:
Keith Papini: I remember everything about that day: around 6.50 a.m., my wife was on her way t… um… go check on our daughter Violet and we met there at the door, I gave her a kiss, a hug and went right out the door.
Keith Papini: I pulled up, I… I saw her car there and I opened the door expecting my son comes a hundred miles an hour right on me and usually uh Violet right behind him, we do… we call, you know, our family snuggles.
Words as “doors” and “open doors”, when used unnecessarily, are associated with sexual abuse. We find it in the language of sexually abused victims as well as in the language of perpetrators. Usually, when people abuse or is abused at home, there are doors opened and closed and lights turned off.
Papini says: “I pulled up, I… I saw her car (…)”, the presence of a stuttering “I” discloses tension and anxiety.
Keith Papini: I looked in few different rooms and I couldn’t find anybody, I thought: Ah, ok, may be, may be they are outside, and I looked around outside but at the time I was, you know, huh, I’m sure they are all together I have no reason to believe otherwise.
Keith Papini: I did, you know, find my phone app and it showed where her phone was so I assumed that there she was and I assumed the kids were with her.
Keith Papini didn’t call his wife but, instead, he used an app to find her phone, an unusual and suspect behaviour.
Matthew Gutman: Where did the find my phone app show where Sherri was?
Keith Papini: On, near our mailbox which is a ways away, it’s better a mile away, actually.
Matthew Gutman: Are you worried?
Keith Papini: Not quite yet. So I got in her car and I immediately drove down to the end of my mail box and I was, you know, anticipating I would see her.
Papini says that he wasn’t “quite yet” worried but, after that, with the word “immediately”, he contradicts himself expressing a different feeling; this is a signal of deception.
Ketih Papini: Again, I wasn’t looking for a phone I was looking for Sherri, when I didn’t find Sherri I went to the other road, came right back and I parked and I got out and now I’m looking for phone because it’s saying: Its here, its here, and it did not take me long, it was right off the road.
Keith has the need to justify his behaviour, it’s quite suspect that he didn’t call her on the phone.
Papini, at first, speaks at the past tense, at the end of this answer he speaks at the present tense: “because it’s saying: Its here, its here”, a clue that he is not speaking from experiential memory; he is not re-living the event. Changing of tense shows inconsistency, it’s a signal that someone is not speaking from experiential memory, truthful people usually describe historical events in the past tense, deceptive people sometimes refer to past events as if the events were occurring in the present.
Keith Papini: I, then, called my mom and asked her if they spoke and she said she hadn’t.
Keith Papini: The first thing I said her (someone at his kid’s daycare center): What time did Sherri pick up the kids today? And when she said: The kids are here, that was like something is wrong, there is something wrong right now.
Keith Papini: If she would have lost her phone driving home one day and she had put it on the roof of the car and it felt off, okay, whatever, I can see that happening but the car was at home and the kids were um… at school, I knew something was wrong.
An illogic explanation, Papini is trying to justify his untimely concern.
Keith Papini: I want to make a clear message: This is real, really get here now. I don’t know, I mean, how many phone calls get on this particular thing, 90% of the time, you know, they went to the store or they are hiding under the bed or its not that, I knew she was taken.
Keith Papini took two pictures of Sherri’s phone after he found it on the grass close to the mail box, another unusual and suspect behaviour.
When Papini tells us that he called 911 for something “real” and that in 90% of the cases, 911 phone calls aren’t about something real, he is simply suggesting that he called for something “unreal”.
Keith says: “I knew she was taken”, it was too early to conclude for an abduction; from the start of this story, Keith Papini is in a hurry to conclude. Papini says: “taken” not abducted or kidnapped. He use a vague, mild word. Statements made by guilty parties often include this kind of words rather than their harsher, more explicit synonyms. Truthful people tend to use words like: stolen, theft, fraud, raped, kidnapped, etc.; deceptive persons are more controlled and tend to use words like: missing, gone, taken, etc.
Keith, Sherri and their two children, Tyler and Violet
Keith Papini: I picked him up (sobbing) and I told him I had something important to tell and he… he jumped… he jumped up on the couch with me, he knew… he knew some was up and he said: Dad, you can tell me anything. For a little 4 year old to say that I wasn’t prepared for that.
To speak about his son is insane, he is exposing his children just to make people feel bad about them, simply to gain their simpathy and to appear more reliable.
Papini is sobbing while he is speaking about his son, the placement of emotions in the right part of an account is an indication of having placed them there artificially, especially when someone is speaking about temporally closed events.
Keith Papini: And I just said: Son, you know, ah, mommy went running and she didn’t come home and we’re all looking for her right now. And we just held each other and… and I said, he said: Are you looking for her?, I said: Everybody in the world is looking for her, right now, and I said: We’re going to find her and we’re going to get her back.
Papini is speaking just to and about Tyler, his son, where is Violet in this picture perfect family?
This sentence: “Everybody in the world is looking for her, right now” is a sign of mythomania.
Keith Papini: He was just standing there (in front of one of Sherri’s poster) and he had his left hand on her face. He was just staring at her … and he was just sitting there, you know, tears in his eyes with his hands on her face.
He is using his child, again…
Keith Papini: I sat him down, and I was on my knees and he was standing up. And I said, ‘You know what, buddy? I found mom, and he, he got the biggest grin and he started like: Where is she?.
… and again. Keith is lying to his son, he didn’t find Sherri.
Matthew Gutman: That very early in the morning, Thanksgiving day, you get a phone call?
Keith Papini: It rang, I think, I was shaving at the time so I kinda looked over at and I didn’t, did not recognise the number.
Matthew Gutman: You didn’t pick it up!?
Keith Papini: I didn’t hear it in time… I only got like the last two rings. Immediately after that my home phone rang, I picked it up and it was avery mixed emotions it was my wife scr…screaming in the background, yelling my name that seemed somewhat confused at the moment, like, ‘What is going on?’… and a CHP (California High Patrol) officer said I need you to be calm, I need you to be calm… but I know, I know it’s her. I can tell it’s her voice.
Keith says: “It rung, I think”, showing that he is not sure of what he was doing when an officer called him to tell that they found his wife, that’s unbelievable. The weakness of “I think” is inappropriate here; again, he says that he didn’t recognise the number and then that he didn’t hear the phone in time, a contradiction, a signal of deception. Your wife is missing and you don’t answer the phone, especially so early in the morning?!
Matthew Gutman: Are you panicked at first you heard her scream?
Keith Papini: I am panicked but I am happy because at this point, this is the first time I’ve heard her voice, I know she is alive.
We are not sure that Keith Papini was panicked because it’s something he doesn’t say on his own, he uses a parroted language. Why Keith feels the need to say: “this is the first time I’ve heard her voice”?, just, because it wasn’t the first time he heard her voice since she disappeared.
Matt Gutman: And you hear…
Keith Papini: And I hear screams so I get the phone and: Oh my god, honey (unintelligible) and of course she is screaming, its very emotional and I love you, I love you, I love you, oh my god, you are here, you back. Where are you? And then the phone gets like taken away from her. Like, super quick.
Keith Papini: She was am… bound, she had a metal… uh sorry, a chain around her waist, that is correct, she had a bag covered her head, that is correct, I think its the right or left arm chained to the chain and, and her left hand was into the vehicle chained to something and she was… yes, she was always… she was chained anytime she was in a vehicle, they opened the door… she doesn’t know because she had a bag over her head, they cut something to free her of her restraint that was holding her in the vehicle and then, kind of, push her out of the vehicle and drove away.
Too many technical details, too much involvement, Keith is speaking for himself, he is making a story for the public, he is not repeating what happened or what his wife told him. Was he there when Sherri was released? He says two times: “that is correct”, that’s unusual; is he referring to a story he built with his wife? In this sentence, Keith Papini is speaking at the past tense, not when he says: “she doesn’t know because she had a bag over her head”, another clue that he is building a story. Changing of tense it’s a signal that someone is not speaking from experiential memory. When Papini says: “she was always… she was chained anytime she was in a vehicle” he shows us to be in trouble to keep in track with his own ‘story’.
Keith Papini: Sherri obviously has one free hand that still has some kind of, something like a hose clamp if you will, and then took obviously the bag off of her head and she has at this point has no idea where she is at and gets up and basically tries to find help, runs to a house that didn’t have any lights on, and didn’t look what she said was very inviting, looked scary, and obviously if you could imagine her state of mind at this point, to another building couldn’t get in that building and then run to the freeway. There was a junkyard or some kind of yard or something like that, that she tried to get into and a big dog started barking and scared her, and then she went and familiarized herself with where she was at by standing in the overpass and noticed I-5 symbols and she knew that I-5 North is where we live. Anything past our house, you’re up in Mount Shasta area. People were driving past her and not stopping, in her mind she is frighted, she scared, she screamed so much, she said she was coughing up, you know, blood from the screaming, trying to get somebody you know to stop. And again just another sign of how my wife is, she’s so wonderful.
Again, Keith is the main character of this story, he is, even, able to taste the blood in his mouth while saying that his wife “was coughing up, you know, blood from the screaming”.
Keith Papini: She is saying: Well maybe people aren’t stopping because I have a chain that looks like I broke out of prison, so she tried to tuck in her chain under her clothes I, I don’t know what reactioning by has to that but me I just like…
Keith Papini: She thought it was late that night, so when the paramedics finally were talking to her they were the first people to tell her: Happy Thanksgiving!, and then she is like: Oh, is thanksgiving night? And they said: No, its Thanksgiving morning.
Papini finds the strength to tell two ‘funny anecdotes’ about his wife, something unusual and suspect.
Keith Papini: The entire, like, hospital was on lockdown, eventually they opened the door.
Words as “open doors” and “doors”, are part of the language of sexual abuse. Its not the first time in this interview that Papini mentions “doors” without reason, any additional and unnecessary word has a story to tell. Keith Papini has the need to say that “The entire, like, hospital was on lockdown” and that they “opened the door” for him, he is showing us how important he is.
Keith Papini: One of the officer, kinda brace me, kinda put his arm around me and he said (sobbing): You know, prepare yourself, umm, she is alive, you just gotta be happy. They branded her.
Keith is speaking about himself not about Sherri, he is the main character of this story. Papini shows a need for emphasis, he creates ‘suspense’ in an attempt to guide the listeners to a specific emotional experience. He is sobbing while he is speaking; placement of emotions in the right part of an account is an indication of having placed them there artificially, especially when someone is speaking about a temporally closed event.
During the interview Papini reveals that Sherri was “branded”, he is giving us this information against the will of the investigators that are working on the case. Keith has a deep desire to compromise the investigation to save himself; he is not interested in finding the captors because there are no captors.
Papini has a huge problem, he thinks to be smarter than investigators or experts. Keith has released many details to the media about his wife kidnap and physical condition in order to compromise the investigation but, after all, he, instead, helped the investigators, showing exactly his role in the false abduction of his wife.
Keith Papini: I just wanted to see her so I… I r…, just ran past everybody and I, you know, throw open the curtain and then she was there, you know, lying in a bed and her poor face and I just hugged her, I just held her, I felt like I hugged her for like twenty minutes, I was so happy that she was there and, you know, just kissed all over and I got, like, nauseated just looking at her, its so hard for me to see her like that.
Papini says: “I just wanted to see her so I… I r…, just ran (…)”, a stattering “I” is suspect, it is a signal of incrising anxiety; when a person lies, this causes internal conflicts that creates emotional stress. Keith Papini says that he “felt” he hugged her for twenty minutes, he doesn’t say that he “hugged her for twenty minutes”, it’s quite different.
Keith is telling the world that he “got, like, nauseated just looking at” his wife, a bizarre feeling; not compassion, pain or anger but nausea. Love is lost.
Matthew Gutman: Keith, a couple of time, you said: Her face, her poor face, what did you see?
Keith Papini: The bruises were just intense, the bumps from, you know, being hit and kicked and whatever else, everyone gets a bruise once in awhile not these types, these are hard to look at, her nose so dark and yellow, her hair has always used very long blond hair, they chopped off.
Sherri was discharged from the hospital after few hours, she didn’t even spend the night there for observation. She wasn’t in bad condition, some bruises, some bumps and short hairs, that’s why Papini needed the suspense to make it appear worse.
Matthew Gutman: They didn’t brand her face, right?
Keith Papini: I will say that no, its not on, no, her face, no.
Papini doesn’t say: “No, they didn’t brand her face” but: “I will say that no, its not on, no, her face, no”, he is inaccurate in order to leave our imagination run, again.
Keith Papini: It made me sick… that there is… people out there that could do something like this.
When Papini says: “there is… people out there that could do something like this” is not telling us that someone did “something” to his wife but that “people out there could do…” that is quite different from: “there is… people out there that did something like this”.
Keith Papini: I just want to hold her and we just had her o… we just embraced each other and cried together and I, I mean, I was so happy, I mean, how do you explain it? You’re upset and everything at what happened but you are happy, she is here.
The idea of Sherri’s abductors still on the loose is terrifying(…) Its terrifying, but, you know, my family is with me, now, I think we are different, now.
When Keith says: “my family is with me, now, I think we are different, now”, he tells us that something was broken before the abduction, there are no other reasons to say: “I think we are different, now” and “my family is with me, now”, Keith is comparing the present with the past, something changed between them after the abduction, they are closer than they were before, we can conclude that something wrong has happened between them before “Sherri was taken”.
Keith Papini: Clearly, I want justice but right now I’m just happy that my wife is back. I don’t have to raise my kids without her.
Right now I am happy, my wife is back. You would expect that I want to get these people … and then your mind goes into a place that it shouldn’t and I think most people are doing that.
Keith is not looking for his wife captors because there are no captors.
Keith Papini: The things she told me that she did, talking to me each time, acting like she was tucking in our kids. She literally lived through hell, she told me she took a piece of cloth and rolled it up like it was Violet and she rocked it. She was so strong.
Keith Papini is fishing for simpathy… again.
Keith Papini: And they are ecstatic to have their mom home. When Tyler was reunited with Sherri, she started crying. Tyler then said to Sherri: You don’t cry when you’re happy, and my wife said: When you’re this happy, you cry.
Keith is using his child… again.
Keith Papini: When lights are off, when doors shut, when she hears certain sounds, I mean it’s it’s something that I don’t know how to deal with and we’ll need somebody who can help her thru that from a professional standpoint. I’m sure I’m going to have to reach out for something for some of my feelings as well. It’s not just a long road, I mean it’s we’ll. It’s something we’re never going to forget.
Inexplicable references to “lights” and “doors” in a statement are often indicative of sexual activity. During this interview Keith Papini spoke many times and without reason about “doors” and “open doors”; words as “lights”; “lights off, doors, doors opening and closing” are possible linguistic indications of sexual activity including sexual abuse.
Keith Papini is right when he says: “we’ll need somebody who can help her” and “I’m sure I’m going to have to reach out for something for some of my feelings as well”. He and his wife need a psychiatrist to help them, they are affected by a shared psychotic disorder, the, so called, folie à deux.
Keith Papini: If a vehicle pulled up with two big dudes in it, would you approach that vehicle being a hundred pound woman? If two women pulled up and, let’s say, they ask for help, that make more sense to me.
Sheriff Bosenko, the chief investigato on this case, said that adult abductions are rare and those by two women are unique. Keith Papini has a reason for everything, his needs to persuade rather than boldly assert is suspect.
Keith Papini: People would see me and start crying and give me hugs … total strangers.
Keith is proud to be famous; this could be a reason he staged his wife abduction.
Keith Papini: There was a moment where we were heading back, after we, you know, did a few mile search, and ahm, we look up and we start to see some birds circling and I started walking and I just went to my knees (sobbing) and uh, I thought am I really, am I really, hiking out here to look for my wife? And do I even wanna, I don’t want to find her right now, but I do want to find her. One of my good friends came over and just, you know, hugged me and let me cry on her shoulder for a little bit, and I, it was, it was, a very sad and a very emotional, and uh, angry moment for me and um, um, I’m very glad they were with me. To kind of pick me up and (sobbing) and it was a…that was a, that was a, tough one for me that day.
Papini is not explaining why he didn’t want to find Sherri, he is unable to assert something, he is just suggesting a reason giving us “the ingredients to bake a cake”, but a cake that is not his cake. He doesn’t assert that he didn’t want to find Sherri death, he is just telling us that he didn’t want to find her in that moment probably because it was too early according with his plan, the family wasn’t enough famous in the all world.
Keith Papini: I was very upset. I wanted more involvement with everybody… I wanted every law enforcement agency out there. Did I want more? Of course, I wanted the Marines, the Army, I wanted a swat team to break in every home in a ten miles radius. I’m gonna do everything I can to find my wife.
That’s such a great support from my family, my friends, the all comunity, the whole world reached out and I’m so grateful for that.
“(…) every law enforcement agency… the Marines, the Army… a swat team to break in every home in a ten miles radius”, mania of grandeur!
“(…) the whole world reached out”, attention seeker!
Keith Papini: Rumors, assumptions, lies, and hate have been both exhausting and disgusting. Those people should be ashamed of their malicious, sub human behavior. We are not going to allow those people to take away our spirit, love, or rejoice in our girl found alive and home where she belongs. I understand people want the story, pictures, proof that this was not some sort of hoax, plan to gain money, or some fabricated race war. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie. Instead, may I give you a glimpse of the mixture of horror and elation that was my experience of reuniting with the love of my life and mother of our children.
Papini speaks about the rumors and the suspects around his wife abduction but he is unable to deny the allegations; usually, innocent people offer a reliable denial before being asked, knowing the allegation is upon them. If Keith Papini is unwilling or incapable to deny the allegations, we are not permitted to say it for him.
He shows a lot of bad feeling for “rumors, assumptions, lies and hate”, no critics at all for the alleged captors of his wife.
In this last answer, he gives us some additional reasons for their acts, they staged the false abduction “to gain money” and to “fabricated race war”.
Ursula Franco, MD and criminologist