Sherri Papini's Sister Believes She Was Desperate for the Love They Didn't Have Growing Up

"I still don't know why she chose to do what she did, and I don't think I'll ever know why," said Sherri Papini's sister.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jun. 20 2024, Updated 1:09 p.m. ET

Hostage Us is a nonprofit organization that offers support to the family members of Americans who have been abducted abroad. The website goes into great detail about what it's like for the people who are anxiously awaiting any information about a missing loved one. It gives anxious individuals permission to care for themselves without feeling guilty, and explains that could happen to you physically emotionally during that time. This could have been useful information for Sheila Koester.

Article continues below advertisement

Koester is Sherri Papini's sister, the 34 year-old mother of two who was allegedly kidnapped near her home in Redding, Calif. in November 2016. And while this didn't happen outside of the country, the people involved suffered similarly. Along with Papini's husband Keith Papini, Koester was heavily involved in a search and rescue that ended up being useless. Papini had faked the entire thing. Koester had to grapple with a lot after the fact. Where is Sherri Papini's sister now? Here's what we know.

Article continues below advertisement

Where is Sherri Papini's sister now? She's still trying to understand her.

In the Hulu docuseries Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini, Koester pops in and out to offer some insight into who her sister is. She references their childhood but doesn't want to go into to much detail because it's extremely painful. What she does say is because they are 22 months apart, Koester took on more of a parental role versus that of a sibling. This was largely due to the fact that there was a fair amount of drinking and drug use in the household.

In trying to figure out why Papini orchestrated such a devastating hoax, Koester believes it was her sister's desperate need for love and attention. "I think she just really wanted to feel important," said Koester. "She always has." This need to be seen is what Koester thinks drove Papini's penchant for dishonesty and exaggeration. If she wasn't getting the reaction she craved, Papini would simply add to whatever story she was peddling.

Article continues below advertisement
(L-R): Sheila Koester; Sherri Papini
Source: Facebook/Sheila Marie Graeff Koester; YouTube/Good Morning America (video still)

When asked if she still loved her sister, Papini looked shocked. "I don't think that will ever go away," she replied after a moment. "When you have a sibling, you always love them. I still don't know why she chose to do what she did, and I don't think I'll ever know why. I think that's the hard part that all of us have to process." It's difficult to understand Koester's feelings, especially when it's easy to look back at how Papini's alleged abduction affected her.

Article continues below advertisement

Sherri Papini's sister immediately fell apart upon hearing the news that Papini was missing.

When Keith called Koester in an absolute panic to tell her that something terrible might have happened to Papini, she did not handle it well. "I fell down to the ground and started sobbing," she said in the docuseries. At the time, Koester was six months pregnant which only added to her fragile emotional state. She had her husband drive her over to Keith's so they could begin searching for Papini.

As the days dragged on, Koester said the comments that she found to be the most painful were about Papini's body. People kept discussing possible locations for it, in front of her. "It was the worst situation because then I had to be the person to tell Keith," she explained. The day after Papini vanished, Koester and Papini's sister-in-law spoke with the Redding Record Searchlight where they begged someone to come forward with information about Papini.

Article continues below advertisement

Koester insisted that Papini would "never leave her babies," which is how she rationalized that something awful must have happened. She then went on to describe Papini as "very bubbly, friendly, has a great smile, absolutely loves her children, and would do anything for them." Papini would later be dubbed a super mom by the press, which is what made her actions so hurtful and baffling.

After Papini was "returned," Koester released a statement to the press, per CBS News. "I've seen her and it was a very joyous reunion, and we were just very very excited to see one another," said Koester. Thinking about that and Koester's role in Papini's life really drives home the fact that his must have been devastating for her. It's almost as if she lost her sister anyway.

More from Distractify

Latest Human Interest News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.