After 28-year-old physical therapist Denise Huskins turned up safe at her father's Huntington Beach apartment in March, police in Northern California said her reported kidnapping was a hoax and comparisons were immediately made to the movie Gone Girl. But the FBI announced Monday that it was no hoax.
When Matthew Muller, a 38-year-old, Harvard-educated former attorney, was taken into custody June 8 for a home robbery in South Lake Tahoe, evidence was discovered that reminded the FBI of the Denise Huskins case, according to authorities.
Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn told police they were awakened in the early morning of March 23 in Vallejo by a bright light. Quinn said he heard a noise similar to a stun gun before a man told the couple to lie face down on the bed. The invader then ordered Huskins to bind Quinn with zip ties, and his eyes were covered with water goggles.
Quinn says he was drugged, left on a couch and that he fell asleep. He says when he awoke, his car, some belongings and his girlfriend were missing. A ransom demand for $8,500 was left on his voicemail. A newspaper was emailed a photo of such items as a water pistol, flashlight and laser pointer that the kidnapper(s) supposedly used.
Two days later, Huskins was found safe and sound near her parents' house in Huntington Beach. After she did not show up for flight to Northern California to talk with the FBI, police were suspicious.
"There is no evidence to support the claims that this was a stranger abduction, or an abduction at all," Vallejo Police spokesman Kenny Park said at the time. "Given the facts that have been presented thus far, this event appears to be an orchestrated event and not a kidnapping."
Huskins and Quinn lawyered up, and at a press conference their attorneys blasted police for not believing their clients.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
Muller, who originally came to the attention of police investigating the robbery in Dublin, is a former U.S. Marine and Harvard Law School graduate who practiced law until 2013. He was disbarred in January 2015 after he was found to have failed to perform competent legal services for a client in an immigration case, according to records. He filed for bankruptcy in 2014, but the filing was dismissed months later, according to U.S. District Court documents.
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A water pistol, a flashlight, a laser pointer, Quinn's laptop computer, water goggles covered with tape, a pair of two-way radios and tape with a long blond strand of hair attached to it were found either in the South Lake Tahoe home where Muller was arrested or inside a stolen car he apparently was traveling in, according to the FBI.
A federal affidavit alleges Quinn was given a muscle relaxant and Nyquil and was warned he was being watched.
Vallejo Police are mum, referring questions to the FBI. Not mum at a press conference Monday was Daniel Russo, Quinn's attorney, who said, "We firmly believe there are other perpetrators out there" [who colluded with the suspect]. What I want for the Vallejo PD to do is to do their job. Go out, find out if there are other guys, get them in custody as soon as possible. And next time, think before you talk."