In the Netflix docuseries “American Nightmare,” viewers learn of the harrowing kidnapping of Denise Huskins, during which she was abducted from her California residence in front of her boyfriend Aaron Quinn in 2015 and held for two days before she was released.
But who was behind the abduction plot? As viewers find out in the three-episode series, authorities arrested Matthew Muller on robbery and assault charges in 2015.
Muller, a 2006 graduate of Harvard University and a U.S. Marine from 1995 to 1999, was once a practicing immigration attorney in San Francisco, according to an FBI arrest warrant obtained by NBC Bay Area.
Muller, 46, has since been disbarred, according to the California State Bar. Here’s what to know about Muller‘s crimes and where he is serving his 40-year prison sentence for kidnapping Huskins.
How did Matthew Muller kidnap Denise Huskins?
Muller broke into Huskins and Quinn’s home on Mare Island in Vallejo, California, between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on March 23, 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.
He used a stun gun and a simulated gun with a laser attached to order the victims to the ground, where he bound and blindfolded them with blackened swim goggles, before forcing them to drink sedative, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Muller also played a prerecorded message indicating that not following the commands would lead to physical punishment or electric shock.
He then put Huskins into the trunk of his vehicle, which he drove to his residence in South Lake Tahoe, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Huskins said Muller forced her to have sex with him twice, which he videotaped, while she was held in captivity at the cabin.
During this time, he also sent two emails to Quinn, demanding a ransom of $17,000. Muller released Huskins in Huntington Beach on March 25, 2015, with no ransom ever being paid, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
While Huskins was missing, a Vallejo Police Department detective questioned Quinn for hours, at times suggesting Quinn was involved with Huskins’ disappearance, according to video footage of the interrogation aired in “American Nightmare.”
The day Huskins was released, the department said in a statement investigators had found no evidence of a kidnapping and accused Huskins and Quinn of faking the abduction.
“There is no evidence to support the claims that this was a stranger abduction or an abduction at all,” Vallejo police said in the statement. “Given the facts that have been presented thus far, this event appears to be an orchestrated event and not a kidnapping.”
The Vallejo Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from TODAY.com.
When was Matthew Muller arrested?
Quinn and Huskins’ case remained unsolved until the Dublin Police Services of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department arrested Muller on charges from a separate home invasion case on June 8, 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Dublin police searched Muller‘s South Lake Tahoe cabin, and located evidence related to Huskins’ abduction, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The FBI then searched the cabin, two other residences, a vehicle and a storage locker.
FBI analysis of Muller‘s computers found a “sound recording consistent with the instructions given to Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins,” as well as video recordings of Muller sexually assaulting Huskins, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Muller in 2022 pleaded no contest to two counts of forcible rape in California in Huskins’ case, according to the District Attorney’s office. He also pleaded guilty to state charges of robbery of an inhabited dwelling, residential burglary and false imprisonment.–
When was Matthew Muller sentenced?
U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley sentenced Muller to 40 years in prison for Huskins’ kidnapping in 2017.
“The sentence imposed today reflects the egregiousness of Muller’s conduct in this case. 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,” Nunley said during the sentencing hearing.
“It is difficult to imagine the level of suffering that Muller inflicted on his victims,” Nunley continued. “The sentence handed down today takes into account that suffering and strives to ensure that Muller will never again commit such crimes.”
Muller‘s defense attorney Thomas Johnson declined to comment to the Associated Press after the sentencing hearing, where he argued for a 30-year sentence, as his client had been diagnosed as manic and depressive and could be rehabilitated with proper treatment. (The 2015 FBI arrest affidavit stated Muller told authorities that he suffered from “Gulf War Illness” and was bipolar.)
In 2022, Muller was sentenced to 31 years in prison after he pleaded no contest to two counts of forcible rape and guilty to three other charges in Solano County Superior Court. His state sentence will be served concurrently with the federal sentence.
Where is Matthew Muller now?
Muller is serving his prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, according to the Bureau of Prisons. His release date is scheduled for July 8, 2049, per the Bureau of Prisons.
He gave a jailhouse interview to NBC Bay Area in 2018. Muller said he was married and also said he was not guilty. He said he pleaded guilty to the federal kidnapping charge in 2015 because he felt sorry for the couple.
“I don’t think there’s any excuse for the way the Vallejo Police Department handled it,” he said. “That’s why I thought it was worth it to take a dive and made sure they achieved justice for that wrongful accusation.”
He also said his guilty plea had to do with a "severe depression" he fell into while in the Sacramento jail. "I didn’t care what happened to me,” he said.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com