Keith Papini Recounts the Troubling Lies Wife Sherri Told Long Before Kidnapping Hoax: 'Something Wasn't Adding Up' (Exclusive)

Sherri Papini pleaded guilty in 2022 to charges related to faking her own kidnapping in 2016

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

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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

After years of distorted truths and deception, Keith Papini is finding clarity about his ex-wife Sherri, who for years lied about being kidnapped in 2016.

Sherri’s story made national headlines in 2016 and again in the years following as authorities, and the public, began to cast doubt on whether she was really kidnapped and held captive for 22 days, like she'd said. By April 2022, after DNA evidence showed she was with her ex-boyfriend at the time she said she was being tortured by two Hispanic women, Sherri pleaded guilty to felony charges of making false statements to federal agents and mail fraud.

Meanwhile, Keith finally began to see the truth: Sherri faked her own kidnapping and lied to him, and the rest of the world, about it for years.

Keith and Sherri’s story is the subject of a new three-part Hulu series, Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini, which began streaming on July 20.

The Redding, Calif., father of two spoke with PEOPLE about the years-long ordeal and opened up about how he came to grips with his ex-wife’s history of lying.

“At the end of the day, you feel like if you can trust anyone, it’s your partner in life. But I was wrong,” Keith, now divorced and raising his two children Violet, 9, and Tyler, 11, as a single dad, tells PEOPLE.

Related: Keith Papini Says Ex-Wife Sherri Lied to Him About Her Faked Kidnapping and Torture for 6 Years: 'I'll Never Know the Truth' (Exclusive)

<p>Courtesy Keith Papini</p> Keith and Sherri Papini and their children

Courtesy Keith Papini

Keith and Sherri Papini and their children

For years, Keith recognized his wife had a penchant for stretching the truth.

“She had some flaws, but I accepted her flaws,” he says. “I was head over heels for her for sure.”

The couple met in grade school and shared their first kiss when Keith was in seventh grade and Sherri was in eighth. The couple lost touch when Sherri and her family moved away but rekindled their romance later in life when she moved back in 2006. They married three years later and had two kids.

But when Sherri would tell Keith about her life during the time when they weren’t in touch, he says the facts didn’t always line up.

“She definitely had a history of exaggerating. And I would say at this point, lying,” Keith says.

For more on the how Sherri Papini's hoax kidnapping, subscribe now to PEOPLE, or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands now.

“There's a lot of things I didn't question," he adds. "I grew up with a lovely mother and father. I was never around a dishonest person to that extent growing up. And when we first got together and she told me things, I believed her. I wouldn't know why I wouldn't. She told me she went to college down in Orange County, she told me she was in ballet. She told me she used to sell cars at a dealership and all these different things, and I wasn't going to go calling her around to verify that those were real. But there were definitely some things where I'm like, ‘Hey, the timeline doesn't match up. Like, you said you did this or you lived at this spot, but this doesn't make sense to me because the timeline's not right.’

"And she always had a way of just skirting around it, and I just kind of went along with it,” Keith adds.

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

<p>Shasta County Sheriff's Office</p> Sherri Papini interrogated by police in August 2020

Shasta County Sheriff's Office

Sherri Papini interrogated by police in August 2020

Keith remembers other moments where Sherri lied right in front of him. He would try to call her out for bending the truth, but Keith says she would manipulate him into apologizing or going along with her stories.

“It was almost like I was making excuses for her, and I think she was able to exploit that from me, meaning kind of use that against me,” he says now. “If something wasn't adding up, she would be quick to move it to where, ‘Well, it's because of this and my childhood, and you didn't experience that you had loving parents.' And she would almost twist it in a way. Now looking back, that I can see. But in the moment, it's more like, ‘Oh, I'm so sorry. Let me give you a hug,’ and you kind of move on.”

Sherri was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty in 2022 to the charges related to orchestrating her fake kidnapping. She served a shortened sentence and is now free, able to have supervised visits with Violet and Tyler once a month.

“Even if she were to come out someday and do a book or magazine, I can assure you that whatever is in there is going to be what she thinks she should say to get whatever goal she's after, but it will not be the truth,” Keith says.

Keith Papini tells his story in Perfect Wife: The Mysterious Disappearance of Sherri Papini, a new three-part documentary series that began streaming on Hulu on June 20.

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