Denise Huskins Kidnapping: Couple to Get $2.5M after Vallejo Police Called Abduction a Hoax

The long and very odd saga of Denise Huskins and her kidnapping seems to be at an end, as Huskins and her boyfriend settled with the city of Vallejo, California for $2.5 million.

But wasn’t her kidnapping a hoax? This is the interesting and bizarre saga of a kidnapping gone weird.

The Kidnapping

On March 23, 2015, Aaron Quinn reported that his girlfriend, Denise Huskins, was kidnapped and being held for ransom. The price to get her back alive was $8,500. Their story seemed like it was right out of a movie.

A kidnapper made his way into Quinn’s home, drugged him, and left him with recorded instructions to retrieve Huskins. When he managed to wake up and get free, Quinn called the police. The police began their hunt but felt something was off.

Quinn was accused of killing Huskins and concocting the kidnapping as a cover story. He was kept in interrogation for approximately 18 hours. Then, two days later, Huskins appeared, unharmed, one hour before the ransom was due.

The police very quickly declared the whole thing a hoax perpetrated by Huskins and Quinn. It was even nicknamed the “Gone Girl” kidnapping in the press, due to some similarities to the book and film of the same name. But as it turned out, Huskins had very much been kidnapped.

What Actually Happened

In a story almost worthy of its own movie, Huskins was indeed kidnapped. Matthew Muller, a Harvard educated lawyer and former marine, later pleaded guilty to the crime, and put together an elaborate plan.

He spied on Quinn and Huskins by using a drone just before breaking into the home. He used a painted water gun to hold the couple hostage as he had both of them put on swim goggles that were blacked out with paint.

Muller then had both victims drink a sleep-inducing liquid (possibly made from Ny-Quill and sleeping pills). He gave Quinn the pre-recorded message, then loaded Huskins into the trunk of his car and headed to his home. Muller also stole a computer from the home.

Huskins was held for two days and sexually assaulted twice during that period. She was released and immediately accused of faking the entire thing. But then something odd happened. The kidnapper began emailing the San Francisco Chronicle.

The emails stated that Huskins was kidnapped by a team of elite kidnappers, who were taking credit for their role in the entire affair as they felt that the treatment of Huskins and Quinn was unfair.

In July 2015, Muller was arrested for robbery and evidence found in his truck led investigators to believe that the kidnapping did take place after all. Muller was sentenced to 40 years in prison due to his plea bargain.

Damaged Their Lives

In March 2016, Quinn and Huskins sued to the city of Vallejo and its police department for defamation, false arrest and false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The couple felt severe damage was done to their lives and reputations and they were forced to move out of town. As their lawyer told People :

“For the rest of their lives these two individuals have essentially a tattoo on their forehead, which labels them as hoaxers.”

The city finally came to an agreement with the couple on Monday, March 19, for $2.5 million.