Back in March, a 29-year-old Vallejo, Calif., woman disappeared from her home, and her boyfriend was left tied up and drugged with a note demanding a ransom for her return. Suspicion initially fell on the boyfriend, but when the victim returned two days later and refused to cooperate with investigators, authorities thought she may have staged the whole thing, a la Gone Girl. Which brings us up to this week, when a real suspect has been charged with the “hoax” kidnapping.
After police in Dublin, Calif., arrested a man for a home invasion June 5, the FBI noted similarities between that crime and the alleged kidnapping of Denise Huskins. They now believe that the alleged home invader, former Marine and Harvard Law graduate Michael Muller, was behind the elaborate abduction plot.
They allege that in the early hours of March 23, 2015, Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, were sleeping when Quinn was awakened by a bright light shining in his eyes. He says he heard a noise similar to a “stun gun,” and came face-to-face with a man who demanded both he and Huskins lie face down on the bed. The suspect ordered Huskins to bind Quinn with zip ties and ordered them to get into a bedroom closet. The suspect then put swim goggles that were covered by tape on Quinn’s eyes and headphones on his ears that played a prerecorded message saying the break-in was being done by a professional group collecting on financial debts and that both victims would receive electric shocks and cuts on their faces if they didn’t cooperate.
Muller then allegedly got financial account numbers from Quinn and information from the victim’s WiFi router, his laptop and other Internet accounts. Quinn was placed on the couch where he fell asleep. When he woke up his was able to free himself. He found that Huskins, his laptop and his car were missing. Huskins was located two days later.
Muller, possibly working with others, allegedly left the $8,500 ransom note that Quinn turned over to police.
That means the bizarre, 9,000 word “manifesto” the kidnappers sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, which Huskins’ lawyer insisted contain details only the two victims and the kidnappers could know, was likely real as well.
They also said they let Huskins go because they had kidnapped the wrong woman.
“We dropped Ms. Huskins off at her home in Huntington Beach because it was more or less equidistant to the Bay Area and because we were horrified at what we had done,” they wrote.