California Couple Vindicated After Police Doubt Home Invasion, Kidnapping Survival Story
Cops determined Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn’s harrowing ordeal never actually occurred — until a suspect slipped up.
A couple in the San Francisco Bay said they were startled awake by an intruder, drugged and the wife kidnapped. Police began to doubt the pair’s seemingly bizarre story, which eventually would take multiple twists and turns before the entire truth about what happened would finally be revealed.
Sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on March 23, 2015, Denise Huskins, 29, and her 30-year-old husband, Aaron Quinn, said they were sleeping in their home in Vallejo when they heard a man’s voice and a bright light was shined in their faces.
According to the couple, they were then restrained, blindfolded and drugged. Huskins said she was forced into the trunk of a vehicle and abducted.
After the kidnapping, whoever took Huskins demanded money for her release. Then, days before the deadline for delivering the ransom was up, Huskins was released by her parents’ home near Huntington Beach, a town in Orange County located around 400 miles south of where Quinn and Huskins lived.
Although Huskins’ return after her two-day ordeal at first seemed like good news, investigators suspected the couple’s harrowing story could be a hoax. At the time, detectives noted that Quinn failed to contact police for hours after the attack, though he explained the delay was due to being sedated and unable to call for help.
Then, on March 26, 2015, KABC reported that authorities made the shock announcement there was no evidence to support the couple’s claims of stranger abduction and said it appeared to be an “orchestrated event.”
“The statement that Mr. Quinn provided was such an incredible story, we initially had a hard time believing it, and upon further investigation we were not able to substantiate any of the things that he was saying,” Vallejo police Lt. Kenny Park said at the time.
A bizarre twist in the story made it even more of a media spectacle when Huskins’ alleged captors got in touch with The San Francisco Chronicle about the case.
“We cannot stand to see two good people thrown under the bus by the police and media, when Ms. Victim F (Huskins) and Mr. Victim M (Quinn) should have received only support and sympathy,” an email to the publication read, CNN reported. “We are responsible for the victims’ suffering and the least we can do is come forward to prove they are not lying.”
The case was cracked and the couple vindicated when former U.S. Marine and disbarred immigration lawyer Matthew Muller was arrested in Dublin, California, on June 8, 2015, in connection with another home invasion. During a search of Muller’s property, investigators located a computer that belonged to Quinn as well as other incriminating evidence, including graphic videos of him sexually assaulting Huskins, that tied him to the couple’s case.
An investigation determined Muller, now 46, had stalked Huskins using a drone. On the evening of her abduction, he broke into their house and threatened her and her husband with a fake gun. According to KRON, Muller fooled the couple into believing there was more than one person involved in the attack by playing a pre-recorded message. During Huskins’ captivity, Muller held her at his home in South Lake Tahoe.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Muller pleaded no contest in 2022 to multiple federal charges. A judge sentenced him to serve 40 years, and he is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
He is also serving a concurrent sentence of 31 years for state charges brought against him in Solano County.
At Muller’s sentencing hearing, KRON reported Muller claimed to be “sick with shame” for causing “pain and horror.”
Huskins told the court she suffered nightly nightmares after the “hell” that she and Quinn survived.
In 2018, Huskins and Quinn sued the city of Vallejo for defamation, and they won a $2.5 million settlement.