Calif. Woman Falsely Accused of Hoax 'Gone Girl' Kidnapping Says Real Abductor Didn't Act Alone
The California couple falsely accused by police of staging a kidnapping three years ago say they believe the real abductor did not act alone.
In a new interview with ABC News airing on 20/20 Friday night and exclusively previewed above, Denise Huskins explains why she feels sure that more than one person was involved.
“When he was still present above us, next to us — we could hear stuff going on downstairs, so cabinets opening or stuff being moved around,” Huskins tells Amy Robach of Matthew Muller, who broke into the home of her and her then-boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, in March 2015. (Huskins and Quinn are now reportedly engaged.)
“Camera being installed,” Quinn adds in the preview clip.
“You could hear people walk away,” says Huskins. “It wasn’t loud. But it was enough — you know when there’s vibrations of movement.”
Federal authorities have said they believe Muller acted alone, using intricate tricks to make it appear otherwise, according to the Associated Press.
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The kidnapping investigation began on March 23, 2015, when Quinn reported to the Vallejo Police Department that he woke up to a bright light in his face and that two people bound and drugged him before abducting Huskins and demanding $8,500 in ransom.
But after Huskins reappeared two days later, police called a news conference and, citing a lack of evidence, declared the case a hoax perpetrated by her and Quinn.
The case became erroneously known as the “Gone Girl” kidnapping, referencing the popular book and movie about a phony abduction.
Ultimately, however, authorities came to believe the couple was telling the truth and, in June 2015, federal prosecutors charged Muller, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former U.S. Marine, with the crime.
After Vallejo police publicly dismissed the kidnapping, the San Francisco Chronicle received letters apparently from the person responsible, who was upset investigators didn’t believe the couple.
“Ms. Victim F was absolutely kidnapped,” one letter read. “We did it. … We would rather take the chance of revealing the truth than live in a world where someone like Victim F is victimized again.”
Authorities have said that it was Muller who penned the rambling letters.
Included in the missives was a bizarre claim that the writer was part of an Ocean’s Eleven-style group of “gentleman criminals.”
“We are young adults, fairly recent college graduates, and up until now this was a bit like a game or movie adventure,” one letter read, according to a federal arrest warrant previously obtained by PEOPLE. “We fancied ourselves a sort of Ocean’s Eleven, gentleman criminals who only took stuff that was insured from people who could afford it.
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Muller pleaded guilty in 2016 to the kidnapping and is serving a 40-year sentence.
At the time, he told the court: “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,” according to the Chronicle.
Speaking to 20/20 this week, Quinn says it was “convenient” for Muller to say “he did it by himself or police to say he did it by himself.”
“‘Cause then the investigation’s over?” Robach asks.
“Right,” says Huskins.
The couple has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the Vallejo police department of defamation, false arrest and false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Among other things, Quinn claimed he was initially held for an 18-hour interrogation — during which officers accused him of killing Huskins — after he reported her missing.
For their part, Vallejo police have said they were initially skeptical of Huskins’ reported abduction because they didn’t believe Quinn’s version of events, including that he had been drugged by intruders.
Last week, the couple reached a tentative settlement with the city of for $2.5 million, according to local TV station KGO.
Joanna Altman, assistant to the city manager, tells PEOPLE the city was not commenting on the matter and is “not in possession of a signed settlement agreement.”
20/20‘s interview with Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn airs Friday (10 p.m. ET) on ABC.