Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn provided emotional testimony on Thursday describing how they were both tied up and drugged before Denise was abducted from their home. Her abductor, Matthew Muller, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a crime that was so bizarre, yet elaborate that initially, police dismissed it as a hoax.
— KTVU (@KTVU) March 17, 2017
The New York Post reported that Californian Denise Huskins described the “hell that we have survived,” telling her kidnapper “you treated me like an object, a toy, an animal.” Muller, who is a disbarred Harvard University-trained attorney, snatched Huskins from her San Francisco Bay Area home two years ago in a Gone Girl-style abduction.
Fighting back tears, Huskins described the two days of psychological and physical torture she endured.
“I still have nightmares every night. Sleep is not rest for me. It is a trigger.”
Her partner, Aaron Quinn, who was also bound and drugged during the kidnapping, has stated that he cannot and will not ever be the same.
As US District Judge Troy Nunley sentenced Muller, he called the abduction a “heinous, atrocious, horrible crime.” Muller was initially facing life in prison, but in exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend 40 years. Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, and shackled, Muller looked straight ahead and showed no emotion while being sentenced. However, he did say he felt “sick with shame” for the “pain and horror” he caused the innocent couple.
— Travis Maurer (@TravisMFOX5) March 16, 2017
After the sentencing, Quinn’s mother, Marianne Quinn, said that a life sentence would have been better because then they’d never have to worry about him again.
“He doesn’t have empathy. I don’t think he’s capable of it.”
Arguing for a 30-year sentence was defense attorney Thomas Johnson; saying that his client had been diagnosed as depressive and manic, and with proper treatment, he could be rehabilitated.
“They want him to be a monster to get 40 years. Fine. Marginalize mental illness.”
Johnson refused to comment after the hearing.
So, what did Matthew Muller do? He spied on Huskins and Quinn using a remote-controlled drone, then broke into their Vallejo home and threatened them with a fake gun. He then tied the couple up and made them drink a sleep-inducing liquid. Muller then played a pre-recorded message while they were blindfolded to make the couple believe there was more than one kidnapper.
He then put Denise Huskins in the trunk of his car and drove to his home in South Lake Tahoe, where she was held for two days before Muller released her in her hometown of Huntington Beach. According to investigators, videos were found showing Muller arranging cameras in a bedroom, then recording himself twice sexually assaulting his blindfolded victim.
During the hearing, Huskins sobbed uncontrollably while Quinn comforted her and kissed her gently on the forehead.
“The only way I got through it was to picture that it was Aaron that I was with.”
Associated Press typically doesn’t name victims of sexual assault. However, in the past Huskins has spoken quite publicly about the case, and on this occasion, she spoke in an open courtroom with many media present. Prosecutors stated that the rapes were one of several aggravating factors which justified a 40-year sentence.
According to Lauren Horwood, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Muller wasn’t charged with a sex crime because there is no appropriate federal law. However, he could still face State charges.
— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) March 16, 2017
Muller used an anonymous email address both during and after the kidnapping to send messages to a San Francisco reporter. He claimed that Huskins had been abducted by a team of elite criminals who were practicing their tactics. After Huskins had been released, Vallejo police called the kidnapping a hoax, likening it to the book and movie titled Gone Girl, in which a woman goes missing, then lies about being kidnapped after reappearing.
This theory was quickly dropped by investigators after Muller was arrested during an attempted robbery at another Bay Area home. A cell phone was found, which was traced to Muller, and other evidence turned up after a subsequent search of a car and home. This evidence included a computer Muller stole from Quinn, which linked the disbarred attorney to the abduction.
Even though Vallejo police have since apologized, Denise Huskins is suing the city and two police officers for defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
On Thursday, Aaron Quinn described how the home he once loved has now become a prison, and how each night his young nieces still check under their beds. He spoke directly to Muller.
“They’re not checking for a bogeyman. They’re checking for you.”
Matthew Muller is a former Marine who was admitted to practice law in California in 2011. According to his state bar profile, he attended Harvard Law School, but in an unrelated incident, he lost his law license in 2015. U.S. attorney Philip Talbot made the following statement.
“Muller had advantages in life that most people only dream of, yet he used his considerable intelligence to plan and execute the physical assault and psychological torture of two innocent strangers.”
— Crime Watch Daily (@CrimeWatchDaily) March 17, 2017
People magazine reported that the hearing on Thursday afternoon in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California, closes a series of bizarre twists that started two years ago when Aaron Quinn reported his girlfriend, Denise Huskins, missing.
Muller was arrested in July 2015 and pleaded guilty to kidnapping Denise Huskins on March 23, 2015. Unfortunately for Denise, investigators originally called her story a hoax, and her case became erroneously known as “The Gone Girl Kidnapping.”
During the sentencing of Matthew Muller, Denise and Aaron spoke about their terrifying ordeal.
“I knew this was probably it for me. My life was coming to an end and I made peace with that. Once released, I couldn’t fathom the pain that was to come. I felt like a little girl, scared, wanting to hear the voices of my parents saying, ‘It’s OK.'”
Aaron Quinn spoke to Muller.
“You strategically destroyed our lives. I cannot and will not ever be the same, my family will not ever be the same.”
Next, Muller addressed the court.
“There’s nothing I can say. I’m sick with shame that my actions have brought such devastation. I hope my imprisonment can bring closure to Aaron and Denise and I’m prepared for any sentence the court imposes.”
Ahead of Muller’s sentencing, the families of Huskins and Quinn submitted letters to the judge.
“Matthew Muller is a very dangerous character. He should never be given the freedom to commit these acts again. I’m pleading with you to show no mercy on this criminal and please sentence him to the maximum sentence allowed by law.”
Assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Siegel requested that the judge impose a term of 40 years in prison, which was granted. However, Muller’s attorney asked the judge for 30 years’ prison time, stating Muller’s mental condition. The attorney said that Muller would never have committed this crime had he been properly medicated, saying he suffers from anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
But Siegel argued that there was no evidence to show that psychological treatment would make him less dangerous. He said that Muller was a serial predator, and the abduction of Denise Huskins was just one of several crimes.
In his recommendation, Segal wrote, “Muller is extremely dangerous.” He described the abduction of Denise Huskins as “depraved and egregious,” and described how on the night of the kidnapping, Muller played a pre-recorded message in which “the group” threatened to punish non-compliance with facial laceration or electric shock.
— stevelarge (@largesteven) March 16, 2017
A speaker attached to Muller’s computer played sounds of “a group of people urgently whispering to each other during the kidnapping.”
Muller also brought a blow-up mannequin dressed in military-style fatigues with him. It was connected to bendable wires to ensure it would stand upright.
“Just punishment requires that Muller suffer a severe sentence that accounts for the entirety of his culpable conduct.”
[Featured Image by pinholeimaging/Shutterstock]