Until recently, Denise Huskins and her current husband, Aaron Quinn, woke up automatically at 3 a.m. – the very moment an armed man stormed into their bedroom about six years ago.
The terrible injury triggered a chain of events that crush the soul.
Although they are slowly healing, the couple remain traumatized not only by the invasion of their home, but also by Huskin’s ‘subsequent kidnapping and rape. Law enforcement officials named Quinn as the prime suspect in the case.
As if that weren’t enough, after her release, Huskins was accused of fabricating her abduction. The press quickly referred to her as “Gone Girl”, referring to the arch-villain who faked her disappearance in the bestselling novel from 2012 and the hit movie that was produced two years later.
“When my attorney told me they called me ‘Gone Girl’ in the headlines, I asked, ‘Is this a good thing?'” The 35-year-old told the Post, adding that she had never seen the movie have. “Then I realized what they meant and it was just so offensive.”
Now Huskins and Quinn, 35, have put the record in a nutshell in their new book “Victim F: From Victims to Suspects to Survivors” (Bekley). The couple, who married in 2018 and have a 14-month-old daughter, Olivia, describe each stage of their suffering before their innocence was proven.
The term “Victim F” – the F stands for female – was chosen as part of the book title because the FBI investigation used it as a somewhat dehumanizing code word for huskins.
In the early hours of March 23, 2015, the sleeping lovers were disturbed by the sound of at least one intruder with guns at Quinn’s home in Vallejo, California. Someone shouted, “Wake up. This is a hold-up.”
Recalling her horror in the memoirs, Huskins noticed the most talkative criminal talking like a robot, as if trying to hide his voice. “We. Are. Not. Here. To. Injured. You. Lie. Face. Downstairs,” he said. The couple were tied with zippers, had to wear darkened goggles and had to drink sedatives. Shortly before leaving, Huskins played those Ringleader who called Huskins “The Voice” intercepted messages recorded in digitally altered language claiming she would return after 48 hours.
Another recording with the same synthesized sound warned Quinn not to call the police – otherwise his girlfriend would be murdered.
Packed in the trunk of Quinn’s car, Huskins was driven several hours away to a new destination, where she was again drugged. She was also raped.
“I was sure I would be killed,” she said. “But I felt I had to do everything possible to stay as calm as possible. It felt like I was always on the verge of hysteria and if I got there I would never go back. “
Nevertheless, at some point she gave up on death and concluded: “I made peace with it, said goodbye to everyone in my life, even spoke to my deceased grandparents and said: ‘If this is the end, please show me the Path.'”
Quinn, who received an email from the kidnappers demanding a total ransom of $ 17,000, took the risk of informing the police. He was faced with hostility from the start. The detectives wasted no time, insisting that they find his story so far-fetched that it couldn’t be true. They stripped him naked for police photos, interrogated him for nine hours, and gave him a polygraph test. Afterward, an officer scornfully remarked that he had failed “miserably”.
“I always thought the cops were there to protect the general public, but I’ve figured out how fast the judicial system can take action against you,” Quinn said. “The pressure these professionals are putting on you is terrifying. You have pure tunnel vision and the absolute certainty that you are lying. “
Fortunately, Huskins was released at the end of two painful days. Although the ransom had not been paid, she was dumped in her mother’s neighborhood about 400 miles south of Vallejo in Huntington Beach.
After all, “The Voice” kept its word to free its victim 48 hours after her kidnapping. Looking back, Huskins wonders if the decision reflected their attempts to “develop a relationship with their captors” by engaging them in small talk. “I tried to show the people in front of you,” she said, “instead of just a kidnapped corpse.”
She followed the attackers’ instructions to count down from 10 and heard the vehicle drive away. In her book she describes the nerve-wracking descent: “Am I really coming to life?” She asked herself as she was let out of the car, her eyes taped shut. “Can I really be free and see my family?”
A few hours later, far from being welcomed by the police, she was threatened with a criminal charge for staging a fraud. Huskins, who hired a criminal defense attorney if she was arrested, feared the worst. “I thought I was just getting out of captivity [to face the possibility of being] put in a prison cell. ”
Federal agencies offered her “immunity” if she admitted that her abduction was a ruse – a proposal she was quick to reject.
Huskins was outraged, stating, “My family and friends are very important to me and it made no sense to think that I would get all of these people fifteen minutes of fame.”
In seemingly insignificant retaliation, the couple’s reputation was publicly shattered during a police press conference. The lieutenant stated that the detectives believed Quinn and Huskin’s claims to be lies. He then calmed the affected community by insisting that house intruders not target the area.
“How can he say that with a serious face?” Quinn writes in “Victim F”. “Nobody is safe! All I feel is fear.”
Meanwhile, between March and August 2015, anonymous trolls followed Huskins on social media. “Damn it, we were hoping you were dead,” wrote one. Another sneered: “Show me something p__, I think you owe it to me after spending two days looking for you.”
Some of the critics happily referred to the “gone girl” analogy originally coined by national media.
Huskins, who called out reasoned responses to some of the keyboard cowards, told The Post, “All of this hatred was directed at me for reasons unrelated to me. With those verbal blows and threats, we were objects to throw stones at. ”The cyberbullies didn’t care that neither Huskins nor Quinn were ever charged with a crime.
The couple, both employed as physical therapists, were finally confirmed in August 2015, three months after Huskins was abducted, when police investigated the case of a masked intruder in Alameda County, California 40 miles away. Authorities found damning evidence near the crime scene, including Quinn’s laptop, zippers and a strand of Huskins’ hair stuck to goggles darkened with duct tape.
They all belonged to Matthew Muller, a former Marine attorney trained at Harvard. The 44-year-old pleaded guilty to a federal kidnapping case in 2016 and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He now faces other government charges, including kidnapping, two violent rape, robbery and burglary cases. However, in November 2020, he was found mentally unfit to stand trial and is currently serving in a safe mental health facility in Solano County, California.
Although Muller’s motives remain a mystery, Huskins and Quinn gained some degree while reading their victim statements in court. But, as Quinn points out, the greater satisfaction is knowing that your tormentor is no longer free to “hurt someone else.” However, he contradicts law enforcement claims that Muller acted alone and used voice recordings to create the appearance of at least one accomplice.
The couple sued the Vallejo Police Department for damages and received $ 2.5 million in an out-of-court settlement, but the duo are suspicious of authorities who labeled them liars. You are stunned by an email apology issued last week by Vallejo City and Vallejo Police.
“It was done through the media, but no one personally apologized to us,” said Quinn. “Frankly, we’d rather see them make cultural and political changes than anything else.”
Despite concerns that the other perpetrators are still at large, the couple refuse to live in fear. You are now based in Santa Cruz, California, serving other victims of kidnapping and sexual assault.
“We have found that one of the things that heals trauma is helping people,” Quinn said. “It can give you new meaning when you can give something back and fill your emotional mug on even the smallest scale.”
And her greatest blessing is Olivia, born on March 25th, 2020, on the fifth anniversary of Huskin’s escape from her kidnappers.
“Our daughter keeps us in the moment and reminds us of the little joys in life,” Quinn said. “She is our happy ending.”