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Ex-Marine Sentenced For Raping California Woman In Bizarre Kidnapping Plot That Was Once Mistakenly Labeled A Hoax
Matthew Muller abducted Denise Huskins from her boyfriend's Vallejo home, holding her captive and sexually assaulting her over a two-day ordeal.
A Harvard-educated former Marine was sentenced Friday for raping a California woman in a kidnapping plot so bizarre police once suspected it was a hoax.
Matthew Muller pleaded no contest to two counts of forcible rape, robbery, burglary and false imprisonment in connection with the Vallejo kidnapping of Denise Huskins, according to Law & Crime.
Muller was sentenced to 31 years behind bars for the state-level charges as part of a plea deal with the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, which will run concurrently with a 40-year federal kidnapping sentence he’s already serving.
Vallejo Police had initially believed Huskins had faked her own kidnapping, publicly hinting that it had been a hoax due to the bizarre and sensational details of the case.
On Friday, Solano County prosecutor Sharon Henry called the initial police response a “travesty of justice” and admitted “mistakes were made,” KTVU reports.
Huskins had been sleeping in her boyfriend Aaron Quinn’s bedroom when an armed man, wearing a scuba suit burst into the bedroom around 3 a.m. on March 23, 2015 and demanded the couple get into a closet, where he zip-tied their hands and feet, ABC News reported last year.
The intruder placed blacked out goggles over their eyes and forced them to drink a “sleep-inducing” liquid, federal authorities said in 2016. They were instructed to listen to a pre-recorded message that threatened them with “face cutting or electric shock” if they failed to comply with the demands.
The kidnapper, later identified as Muller, then drove Huskins to his South Lake Tahoe home, where he held her for two days and sexually assaulted her, before ultimately driving her to Huntington Beach and letting her go near her parent’s home.
Before the intruder left Quinn’s Vallejo home with Huskins in tow, he had forced Quinn, who would later marry Huskins after the ordeal, to stay on a couch, telling him that a camera on the wall would be watching him and instructing him not to go beyond a taped perimeter marked on the floor.
He also instructed Quinn not to call authorities, but when Quinn awoke from his drug-induced slumber later that morning, he called his FBI agent brother, who urged him to call 911, according to ABC News.
Vallejo Police initially suspected the kidnapping was a hoax, saying publicly that the couple had “plundered valuable resources away from our community and taken the focus away from the true victims of our community,” according to SF Gate.
Some even compared Huskins to a real life "Gone Girl," a reference to the popular movie where a woman stages her own kidnapping.
It wasn’t until another similar home-invasion burglary in Alameda County on June 5, 2015 that investigators would discover the truth.
Muller was arrested in that case after dropping his cellphone in a scuffle with the homeowners, SFist reports.
While searching his South Lake Tahoe home, investigators discovered evidence connected to Huskins’ abduction.
Huskins would later sue the Vallejo Police Department for how they handled the case and was awarded a $2.5 million settlement.
In a statement obtained by Oxygen.com last year, Vallejo Police issued a public apology to Huskins and Quinn, saying said the case was “not publicly handled with the type of sensitivity a case of this nature should have been handled with.”
“What happened to Ms. Huskins and Mr. Quinn is horrific and evil. As the new Chief of Police, I am committed to making sure survivors are given compassionate service with dignity and respect,” Chief Shawny Williams said at the time. “Although I was not chief in 2015 when this incident occurred, I would like to extend my deepest apology to Ms. Huskins and Mr. Quinn for how they were treated during this ordeal.”
Muller, a former Marine who had once studied at Harvard Law School, was sentenced to 40 years for federal kidnapping charges in 2017.
However, last week, Henry said “full justice was not achieved” and that Muller still needed to be held accountable for raping Huskins and traumatizing Quinn.
“He deserved justice, and Denise Huskins Quinn also deserved justice related to the sexual assault crimes that were committed against her,” Henry said, according to KTVU.
The state-level case had initially been delayed after Muller’s mental health had been called into question.
The state was finally able to proceed with the case last week and Muller appeared via Zoom from the Napa State Hospital, where he pleaded no contest to the charges against him.
Henry later said she hoped the plea would “bring justice to the victims.”
“My heart goes out to them and the healing process takes a very long time,” she said of Huskins and Quinn, according to KNTV. “Based on my conversation with them, they are trying their best to move on.”
Oxygen.com reached out to the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, but did not receive an immediate response.