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Federal Kidnapping Charges in Bizarre Ransom Plot

Posted by Jessica Carmichael | Oct 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

In a kidnapping story so bizarre the it was recently the subject of an NBC Dateline story, a federal grand jury has indicted a man in California for allegedly abducting a woman for ransom. Matthew Muller, 38-years-old, will be facing life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

On March 23rd, thieves broke into the Vallejo home of Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn. An individual, dressed in black and wearing a ski mask reportedly drugged them, abducted Huskins, threw her in the trunk of Quinn's car and drove off in the night.

When Quinn contacted police about the incident, the Vallejo police found the story suspicious. While talking to police, Quinn's phone was called, with someone leaving a voicemail demanding two payments of $8,500 each. Then, two days later, Huskins showed up at her family home in Huntington Beach, reporting that she'd been sexually assaulted, twice.

After Huskins showed up without any ransom being paid, Vallejo police held a news conference putting the blame on Huskins and her boyfriend for creating the hoax. They may have even thought that Quinn had planned ahead of time for his phone to be called while in custody, to lead suspicion away from him.

Lt. Kenny Park of the Vallejo Police Department publicly said “upon further investigation we were not able to substantiate any of the things he was saying,” and called the whole incident a waste of resources. Quinn and Huskins remained steadfast in their claims regarding the abduction. An email purporting to be from the kidnappers even came forward, sent to the San Francisco Chronicle, stating the abduction was real.

Later on, in nearby Dublin, California, a couple awoke to find a man standing in their bedroom holding a flashlight on them, ordering them to lay down, to be zip tied. When the couple fought back, the intruder fled, leaving a cell phone behind. That phone was later tied to Matthew Muller. When investigators arrived at Muller's South Lake Tahoe cabin, they found several laptops, including one which belonged to Quinn.

It turned out Muller was a former U.S. Marine, and Harvard Law School graduate. He was disbarred earlier this year after failing to perform competent legal service for a immigration client. He has already been charged in the home invasion burglary in Dublin, pleading no contest to charges of attempted robbery, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

“The bizarre circumstances of the events in Vallejo in March complicated the investigation of this matter, said U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner in a statement, “but the Vallejo Police Department, the FBI and our law enforcement allies in Alameda County have done excellent work in recent months to bring this investigation to a conclusion.”

Now that Quinn and Huskins appear to be cleared from allegations that they'd fabricated the whole kidnapping story, they have filed a legal claim against the Vallejo Police Department. Their lawsuit alleges the police were negligent in handling evidence, including losing a sexual assault medical test.

About the Author

Jessica Carmichael

Ms. Carmichael was named one of the "Top 40 Under 40" by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2015 and 2016, and "Top 10 Under 40 by National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 2015, and a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers in 2016. Ms. Carmichael has been responsible for dismissals, acquittals, or reduced charges in many serious cases where her clients were unjustly charged, such as: felony strangulation, cyber attacks, arson, possession with intent to distribute, federal drug conspiracies, domestic assault, and more.

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