‘I’m the idiot husband who stayed’: Keith Babini was ‘in shock’ after finding out his wife’s 2016 kidnapping was a hoax
Keith Babini has been one of his wife’s biggest advocates, but when in 2020 investigators revealed that her kidnapping four years earlier was an elaborate hoax, the father of two told detectives he was “in shock.”
“I’m the dumb husband who’s been around the whole time,” Keith said in August of 2020, as he sat down to speak with investigators after the startling revelation, according to an interrogation clip included on an episode of ABC’s “20/20.” which aired on Friday.
Sherry Babini was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month for lying to the FBI and claiming that two Hispanic women kidnapped her at gunpoint in November 2016 while she was out jogging near her home in Reading, California.
The disappearance of the missing mother of two children sparked a massive search effort to find her. She showed up on the side of the road three weeks later 150 miles away in Yolo County, bruised, beaten, and chained.
RELATED: California mom Sherry Babini says public shame about 2016 kidnapping hoax really ‘looks like a life sentence’
It wasn’t until four years later that investigators were able to match DNA on Papini’s clothes that day to James Reyes, one of her ex-boyfriends with whom she was secretly staying, and uncover the truth behind the elaborate hoax, according to ABC news and a statement from the Department of Justice.
When authorities summoned the couple on August 13, 2020 to discuss a separation in the case, Keith Babini seemed excited and eager to find out who was responsible for his wife’s horrific ordeal, but after the truth was revealed, he walked out of the questioning field.
He later returned to sit alone with the investigators, describing himself as “in shock” and expressing a wish not to be close to Sherry.
“Now you’re telling me, ‘Okay, you can go home now,’ OK, do you think I want her anywhere around my kids or around me at all times?” , asked in the footage.
One of the investigators replied to Keith, “I don’t know what the next stages of this are.”
“We’re not together,” Keith said adamantly. “I can tell you that much.”
Photo: Shasta County Sheriff’s Office
Keith has been an outspoken part of the effort to find his wife, regularly giving media interviews, providing photos and calling for her safe return in the days following her disappearance on November 2, 2016.
“I just want her and I want her back safely,” Keith told People in 2016.
Even when Keith finds himself under suspicion by detectives as a possible suspect in the disappearance, he remains steadfast in his quest to find Sherry.
He later told “20/20” shortly after finding his wife, “I clearly knew I had nothing to do with it, and I didn’t care, I looked beyond it all.”
Keith was eventually acquitted.
As the days passed with no sign of losing his wife, Keith recounted through tears how hard it was to tell the couple’s then 4-year-old son that his mother was missing.
“I just said, ‘Son, you know my mom went for a run and didn’t come home. We held each other, and…he said, “Are you looking for her?”
The family got their wish three weeks later on Thanksgiving morning when a truck driver spotted a Chery on the side of the road; Her long blond hair had been clipped, she had a trademark on her shoulder, and she wore chains.
Papini claimed she was kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, who held her captive for weeks and was planning to take her to a law enforcement agency before one of her kidnappers decided to release her, ABC News reports.
In the days that followed, Sherry was reluctant to speak to investigators and insisted that Keith stay by her side during any interviews with law enforcement.
“I don’t know you guys, I don’t know if you’re in my corner,” she told investigators during an interview at her home just four days after she was found. “I know my husband. I know my husband is in my corner.”
Authorities were skeptical of Sherry’s story from the start, but the truth wasn’t finally revealed until they were able to match the DNA on her clothes to Reyes in 2020.
She was arrested and charged on April 12 with 34 counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements to law enforcement. Authorities said they later pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements.
Keith Babini filed for divorce shortly after her arrest and requested custody of the couple’s two children.
“I, and especially our children, have been affected by her disappearance, and have spent a lot of time and money trying to find my wife. The shock of our children to unexpectedly lose their mother was heartbreaking,” Written in court papers obtained by The Associated Press.
Sherry was sentenced in September to 18 months in prison – a sentence longer than both prosecutors and her defense team had recommended.
U.S. District Court Chief Justice William B.
“People don’t like being duped,” he said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “And I don’t think those people who have been deceived are going to think that a month or eight is enough.”
She was also ordered to pay $309,902 in damages.
After the ruling, Keith said in a statement to People that he was trying to move on with his life.
“The events of the past two months have been horrific and devastating. My current focus is to move forward and do everything in my power to provide my child as normal, healthy and happy life as possible,” he said.
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