Prepare to have your minds blown: Remember the case of the bizarre, totally fake-sounding home-invasion kidnapping that happened in March in Vallejo that was quickly called a hoax by Vallejo police after the victim, Denise Huskins, appeared unharmed just two days later in Southern California? And remember how the supposed kidnappers were only demanding a piddling $8,500 ransom, and subsequently released a "manifesto" in which they claimed to be Ocean's Eleven-style "gentlemen criminals" who were just doing a "dry run" in preparation for future crimes? Well, the FBI has just arrested a man in connection with another home invasion in Dublin that happened in June, and they're saying the same guy may have been responsible for kidnapping Huskins.
CBS Sacramento brings us the mugshot, and reports that the FBI has issued a federal arrest warrant for 38-year-old Matthew Muller of Orangevale (near Sacramento), after finding multiple similarities in the Dublin case to the previous alleged abduction of Huskins which the national news media quickly jumped on for its weird similarities to Gone Girl. Muller is currently being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, as ABC news reports.
Like in Gone Girl, suspicions quickly turned on Huskins' significant other, Aaron Quinn, the man she was living with and who claimed he was tied up and drugged and was therefore unable to report the kidnapping until well into the following day after it happened. Suspicions also fell on Huskins as a co-conspirator after she initially agreed, and then declined, to cooperate with the FBI in the investigation. According to the couples' story, which now has a few new details via the newest FBI statement, they were the victims of a frightening home invasion early in the morning of March 23, when they were asleep.
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, a noise similar to a “stun gun,” and a man who demanded both he and Huskins lie face down on the bed.
The suspect then ordered Huskins to bind Quinn with zip ties and told them both to get into a bedroom closet. The suspect then put swim goggles that were covered by tape on the 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 the 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 later, his was able to free himself. He found that Huskins, his laptop and his car were missing. Huskins was located two days later.
The FBI is now saying that Muller may have committed some other, similar crimes. [Update: Here are the details on those, including two unsolved home invasions on the Peninsula in 2009.]
In a 15-page, single-spaced email that was sent to Huskins' attorney and to the Chronicle's Henry Lee back in March, the alleged kidnappers apologized for what they claimed was a mistaken abduction mentioning that there was maybe some other intended victim and saying that they returned Huskins to her father's home in Southern California after just two days, without collecting any ransom, because they felt bad for her and it was a case of "reverse Stockholm Syndrome."
If that crazy-ass email turns out to have not been a complete work of fiction... just, wow.
Update: A man claiming to be Huskins' uncle sent us a link to the complete, unsealed affidavit, which you can read, which includes even more details as well as the entire email that was sent to Henry Lee at the Chronicle by the alleged kidnappers. According to Huskins' account, given to federal officers, she was sexually assaulted twice by two of the people who kidnapped her, and it appears that their intended victim was not her, but was the ex-fiancé of her boyfriend Quinn whom she'd been with for seven months. The ex-fiancé's initials are AR, and it's unclear why she was the chosen target. The suspects claim they had broken into the home multiple times before, and believed that she was still living there.
Their ransom demand was actually $15,000 in two payments, the first being $8,500, from separate accounts, in order to evade alerts to the IRS for withdrawals of $10,000. One of the suspects allegedly told Huskins that she was returned to her father's home in Huntington because because she was no longer of "financial use" to them. However, according to the email sent to Lee, part of the motivation was to set the record straight following the statement by the Vallejo PD calling the incident a hoax. "What galvanized us," the kidnapper says, "was the travesty that is the police department's response to Ms. [Huskins], who in addition to being kidnapped (and again this is off the record and not really ours to share), was previously the victim of several horrifying crimes, the details of which we will not share because they were told in confidence during a vulnerable moment while she was drugged... we would rather take the chance of revealing the truth than live in a world where someone like [Huskins] is victimized again."
Update 2: ABC 7 and the Associated Press are reporting that the suspect, Matthew Muller, suffers from bipolar disorder, is a former Marine, and practiced law in California from 2011 to 2013, at which point he was disbarred, technically for failing to pay his dues, but also for failing to cooperate with a disciplinary investigation. Among the evidence found in Muller's possession when he was arrested in South Lake Tahoe was a laptop resembling one stolen from Quinn, and a water pistol with a laser pointer attached to it, shown by the kidnappers in photos after they released Huskins.