Assault suspect linked to Denise Huskins kidnap

A Sacramento County man accused of an assault and attempted robbery in Dublin last month is also a suspect in the kidnapping of a Vallejo woman in March, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed today.

The reported kidnapping of Denise Huskins, 30, from the residence of her boyfriend on Mare Island early on March 23 was initially described two days later by Vallejo police as unsubstantiated and “apparently an orchestrated event and not a kidnapping.”

Huskins was found on the morning of March 25 near her mother’s house in Huntington Beach, where she said the kidnappers dropped her off after holding her in an unknown location for two days.

Police said at the time┬áthat Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, appeared to have sent investigators on a “wild goose chase” and that there was “no evidence to support the claim that this was a stranger abduction or an abduction at all.”

But FBI agent Jason Walter said in an affidavit filed in federal court in Sacramento on June 29 that he believes “there is probable cause to believe” that Matthew Muller, 38, of Orangevale in Sacramento County, carried out the kidnapping of Huskins.

Muller was arrested by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies at his mother’s home in South Lake Tahoe on June 8 in connection with the June 5 home-invasion-style burglary of a Dublin residence.

Walter wrote that when arrested, Muller told deputies that he was a former Marine who served from 1995 to 1999 and later attended Harvard University from 2003 to 2006. He told deputies he suffered from “Gulf War illness and problems with psychosis” and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008, the affidavit said.

Walter noted that California State Bar records show that a Matthew D. Muller attended Harvard Law School and was disbarred from law practice in the state in 2015. The records show that Matthew D. Muller received his undergraduate degree from Pomona College.

Muller is currently in custody and is charged by Alameda County prosecutors with first degree burglary, attempted first degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly hitting one of the owners of the Dublin home on the head with a metal flashlight during a struggle.

A cellphone left behind when the invader fled from that house was traced to Muller’s Orangevale address, Walter wrote.

Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick said Muller’s preliminary hearing in the Dublin case is scheduled for Aug. 27.

Walter’s affidavit was filed in a separate federal case in which the FBI was seeking a search warrant to seize evidence potentially related to the Vallejo case. Court records show that the search was authorized on June 29 and executed on June 30.

Gina Swankie, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Sacramento office, said the investigation is “active and ongoing” and said she could not comment further.

Huskins and Quinn, both physical therapists who met while working at Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo, told investigators that at least two people invaded Quinn’s house in the early morning hours of March 23. They said they were drugged, had their wrists bound with zip ties and made to wear swim goggles in which the lenses were taped over, according to the affidavit.

Huskins said she was transported in a car trunk to an unknown location before being taken to Huntington Beach and dropped off there.

Walters said in the affidavit that evidence previously seized from Muller’s mother’s home on June 8 included swim goggles with taped lenses and a long blond hair similar to Huskins’ hair; a laptop computer of the same type reported stolen by Quinn; zip ties; and a white Fort Mustang stolen from another person in Vallejo on Jan. 3.

The stolen car had Muller’s driver’s license under the seat and its navigation system history showed a search for the Huntington Beach street where Huskins was dropped off, Walter said.

A report filed in court on the June 30 search said that 31 items of new evidence seized from the South Lake Tahoe address included a laptop, a notebook, duct tape, bedding and a zip tie with possible hair attached.

Muller’s mother told sheriff’s detectives that he resides primarily in the South Lake Tahoe home.

The affidavit cites two lengthy anonymous messages sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on March 26 and 28 in which the sender said the kidnapping was not a hoax and that the kidnappers felt sorry for Huskins, admired her courage, felt deep remorse and decided to free her.

The messages said the group of three kidnappers had intended to kidnap Quinn’s ex-fiancee, who looked like Huskins, and that they did realize not until after the invasion that Huskins was not that person.

The document also cites two anonymous messages sent to Vallejo police Lt. Kenny Park on March 30 and 31 demanding that police issue a “full apology” to Huskins and Quinn for having insinuated they created their predicament.

Huskins’ attorney, Douglas Rappaport, said today that Vallejo police not only owed Huskins an apology, but owed everyone an apology for allowing a kidnapper to roam free while publicly accusing their victims of lying.

The kidnappers “were at liberty to continue on their crime spree and in fact did,” Rappaport said. Rather than properly investigate the case, Vallejo police investigators re-victimized Huskins, he said.

Quinn’s attorney, Daniel Russo, said at this point an apology “is no good” and said Vallejo police should work earnestly to find the other kidnappers:

“What I want Vallejo police to do is to do their job. Go out, find out if there’s other guys, get them in custody as soon as possible,” and make sure next time they think before they talk, Russo said.

The statements by Vallejo police alleging the two made up the story has led to them being questioned relentlessly both publicly and personally, including by employers and potential employers, the attorneys said.

Neither attorney would comment on wither they would seek civil damages against Vallejo police, saying they were both criminal defense lawyers and would not be involved in a civil case.

Huskins and Quinn appeared at a news conference with their attorneys in Vallejo this afternoon but declined to give a public statement or discuss the facts of the case. Quinn learned of the FBI’s arrest on Friday, Russo said.

Neither lawyer has been able to reach Vallejo police today, they said.

Vallejo police could not be reached for comment.