The horrifying Kidnapping Case Behind Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series

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Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series: Denise Huskins claims that when she was released on March 25, 2015, by one of the men who had kidnapped her two days before, the last thing she thought about was making sure everything she had gone through sounded convincing. However, almost immediately after reaching safety, Huskins, then 29, realized she had returned not only to a media frenzy, but also to a swarm of law enforcement officers keen on demonstrating she had pulled a real-life Gone Girl.

Huskins and her now-husband Aaron Quinn describe how their lives went out of control when Huskins was seized from Quinn’s Vallejo, California, home in the early hours of March 23, 2015. American Nightmare is currently available for watching on Netflix. In the 48 hours that followed, the police’s theory about Huskins’ disappearance shifted from blaming her then-boyfriend Quinn to Huskins herself being the mastermind of a plot akin to the staged kidnapping that served as the basis for David Fincher’s 2014 thriller Gone Girl, which was adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling 2012 book of the same name.Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series

The three-part documentary from Felicity Morris and Bernadette Higgins, the creators of The Tinder Swindler, chronicles how Huskins and Quinn’s story turned into a terrifying illustration of what happens when the legal system fails the victims of crime. It includes audio recordings, interviews, and interrogation footage.

Denise Huskins: what happened to her?

Huskins and Quinn, respectively, tell the stories of the night of Huskins’ kidnapping and the days that followed from their points of view in the first two episodes of American Nightmare.

Both claim they were awakened in the middle of the night by an intense light and a man’s voice warning them that Quinn’s house had at least one invader.

“I recall believing it was a dream when I heard a voice while I was asleep,” Huskins told ABC News. “The sound continued to persist, and all I can look back on is that my eyelids immediately jerked open. The walls were illuminated with a white light that was flashing, and I noticed a few red laser dots tracing across the wall. I also heard someone say, “Wake up, this is a robbery.” We don’t intend to cause you harm. And all I could think at the time was, “Oh my God.” This isn’t a dream.'”Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series

Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series American_nightmare

Huskins was transported from the house in Quinn’s car trunk, while Quinn was left inside to wait for additional instructions on how to provide a ransom. The pair had been chained, blindfolded, and put under drugged medication. Additionally, he was informed that Huskins would be killed by the kidnappers if he reported them to the police and that they were keeping a camera on him.

In “Part One: The Boyfriend,” Quinn describes how the police didn’t accept his version of Denise’s disappearance and how he ended up being regarded as a suspect in the case. Video footage of Quinn’s conversation with Vallejo Detective Mathew Mustard shows Mustard disagreeing with Quinn’s account and speculating that Quinn killed Huskins during a domestic violence altercation and then disposed of her body. Quinn’s brother Ethan was questioned by the police for eighteen hours before hiring Dan Russo as his lawyer to represent him going forward and get him released from custody.

The kidnappers attempted to get in touch with Quinn via phone and email regarding the ransom while he was detained, as he had informed the police would happen. The cops, however, had set his phone to airplane mode.

As she describes in “Part Two: Gone Girl,” Huskins’ kidnappers were keeping her in an isolated area during this time. The one individual she spoke with revealed to her that he was a former soldier who was a member of a gang consisting of three other people. Additionally, he revealed that Quinn’s ex-fiance, Andrea Roberts, who had resided at Quinn’s house until the previous September and bore a striking resemblance to Huskins, was the original target of the abduction. Huskins’ captor videotaped her being raped twice during the course of the following 48 hours.

Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series American_nightmare

Eventually, 400 miles from Vallejo, close to her childhood town of Huntington Beach, she was freed—without a ransom being paid. After finding her dad wasn’t home, she proceeded to her father’s house, where she was allowed inside by a neighbor. When Vallejo Police declared on the day of her release that her captivity seemed to have been “orchestrated event and not a kidnapping,” Huskins was compelled to retain her own legal representation, from defense attorney Doug Rappaport.

“Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins have taken precious resources from our town, diverting attention from the real victims of our community and creating a climate of terror among those who live here,” Vallejo police spokesperson Lt. Kenny Park said during a press conference.

The kidnappers sent several emails to the San Francisco Chronicle claiming that the couple was telling the truth, seemingly feeling bad about how Huskins was being handled by the police and the media. The emails contained images that supported specifics of Huskins’ story.

“We find it unbearable that two decent persons, Mr. Victim M (Quinn) and Ms. Victim F (Huskins), are being unfairly blamed by the police and media when they ought to have had nothing but sympathy and support,” one email read. “The least we can do to alleviate the victims’ pain is to come out and demonstrate that they are telling the truth..”

Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series, how was the case resolved?

An attempted kidnapping in Dublin, California, about 40 miles south of Vallejo, provided a break in the case for them after months of living in fear of being attacked again and being falsely accused of having faked Huskins’ sexual assault and kidnapping. The June 5, 2015, event was eerily similar to the narrative told by Huskins and Quinn, but this time the couple under threat had stopped the burglar, who had lost his phone inside their home during the altercation.

After tracing the phone’s owner, a woman in Dublin informed the authorities that it belonged to her son, Harvard law school graduate and former US Marine Matthew Muller. One of the officers involved in the arrest, Misty Carausu, began piecing together the information after searching Muller’s South Lake Tahoe cabin.

“Upon reviewing all the evidence, it was evident that this was not his first criminal act,” Carausu told ABC News. “All I needed to do was locate the locations of these additional crimes.”

Muller was eventually charged with kidnapping for ransom in a Sacramento federal court. Muller had previously carried out similar home invasions and attacks throughout the Bay Area. He admitted to the crime and was given a 40-year prison sentence, but he never disclosed the reason Roberts was the target. He was eventually found guilty in Solano County of raping Huskins, robbing, breaking into a house, and falsely imprisoning Quinn. He was given a sentence of 31 years in state prison. In addition to the federal sentence, he is serving his state sentence concurrently.

Huskins and Quinn insist that other suspects were involved, although Muller is the only one who has ever faced charges in this case.

Denise and Aaron, where are they now?

Huskins and Quinn sued the City of Vallejo and its police force in March 2016 for defamation, claiming that the officers had subjected them to “an awful and completely baseless campaign of disparagement that “unfairly destroyed their reputations” was a nasty and startling attack.”

Despite their $2.5 million out-of-court settlement, they persisted in criticizing the department’s policies. Quinn stated in a 2021 Open Vallejo opinion piece that Vallejo Police ought to be dissolved due to the misbehavior of its officers.

“My wife Denise Huskins and I experienced the department’s hostility six years ago when she was stolen from my home,” he wrote. “Detective Mat Mustard and others wrongly accused me of murder without providing any evidence, and they disregarded leads that could have brought them to Denise. We were accused of staging her kidnapping and sexual assaults as soon as she was freed alive.”

Netflix’s American Nightmare documentary series American_Nightmare

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams, who was appointed chief in 2019 and resigned in 2022, described what occurred to Huskins and Quinn as “horrific and evil” in a statement from 2021.

“I’m determined to see that survivors receive considerate care that is accompanied by respect and dignity,” the statement read. “Even though I wasn’t chief when the incident in 2015 occurred, I would want to sincerely apologize to Ms. Huskins and Mr. Quinn for the way they were treated at this difficult time.”

The couple has stated that the terrible story ultimately strengthened their bond on a personal level. Olivia, their first child, was born five years to the day following Huskins’s release. They got married in 2018. In 2022, Naomi, their second daughter, was born.

“Any type of trauma has the potential to leave you distraught and in a position where you simply believe that there is no way to go past it. “What should I do now?” Huskins talked to ABC News about her and Quinn’s efforts to overcome their emotional pain. “Ours, I believe, is one instance of that. Hope exists. There is hope, even though it might take some time and need a lot of effort.”

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