The police thought her kidnapping was a hoax — but it wasn’t. Denise Huskins’ true story

“American Nightmare,” Netflix’s new true crime docu-series, tells the story of Denise Huskins, a California woman whose terrifying abduction was initially dismissed as a hoax by police.

The three-part series details the surreal case, which began in March 2015 when an intruder broke into the Vallejo, California, home that Huskins shared with her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn. The intruder — or intruders — drugged the couple, kidnapped Huskins and then issued a ransom for her safe return. When Quinn went to report the crime to police, he became the suspect.

Huskins and Quinn participated in the Netflix documentary that went over the harrowing ordeal. Read on to learn more about the terrifying real-life case behind “American Nightmare.”

Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn (Paul Chinn / Getty Images)

Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn (Paul Chinn / Getty Images)

Huskins and Quinn’s home is invaded in March 2015

Huskins and Quinn’s case started in March 2015, when Quinn called the Vallejo Police Department to report that the couple’s home had been invaded and that the intruder — or intruders — had “forcibly drugged” them, and then kidnapped Huskins.

Huskins and Quinn are tied up before Huskins is abducted

According to an FBI affidavit obtained by NBC News in 2015, Huskins was forced to bind Quinn with zip ties during the break-in. The couple were kept at first in a closet in their home. NBC News is’s sister company.

The suspect forced Quinn to wear blackened swim goggles and made him write down numbers for the couple’s financial accounts, along with their Wi-Fi password, the affidavit stated.

Muller put Huskins in the trunk of his car and drove her to his home in South Lake Tahoe, where she was kept against her will for two days.

When Quinn awoke, he heard a voice mail message on his phone demanding he pay a ransom for Huskins’ safe return by noon that Wednesday, the FBI affidavit read.

Investigators later said that they found videos of Muller sexually assaulting Huskins while she was blindfolded.

Huskins shows up safe at her dad’s house two days after the home invasion

Two days after the break-in, Huskins was found wandering around in her hometown of Huntington Beach, about 400 miles away from Vallejo, the FBI affidavit stated.

She later told police that Muller had dropped her off in the area.

Vallejo Police dismiss the case, calling it a ‘hoax’

Quinn, speaking to Netflix’s publication Tudum, reflected on the police department’s response.

“I never blamed the police for being suspicious or doubting my initial story,” Quinn tells Tudum. “I was the last person with Denise. I could be looked at as a person of interest. I foolishly believed they would follow evidence.”

“Even after saying I killed Denise, they made up a crazy story that we did it together,” Quinn says. “The mental gymnastics they had to go through are astounding. Even just following the basic evidence would have led them to the right conclusion, and they could have been heroes.”

Vallejo police department did not participate in the documentary. has reached out for comment.

In June 2015, the FBI arrests Muller following his arrest in a similar home robbery

In June 2015, the FBI arrested Muller after Mulller was arrested in a similar robbery at another San Francisco Bay Area home. In that case, too, a couple had been tied up.

Police found a cellphone that they traced to Muller. A search of his car and home turned up additional evidence, including a computer Muller stole from Quinn.

Muller was arrested on kidnapping charges on June 29, 2015.

The FBI’s arrest warrant gives background on Muller

The FBI’s arrest warrant said Muller was a 2006 graduate of Harvard University and had been a Marine from 1995 to 1999, according to NBC Bay Area.

Muller was a disbarred San Francisco immigration attorney, according to the California State Bar.

The arrest warrant stated that Muller told authorities that he suffered from “Gulf War Illness” and was bipolar.

Muller details in court how he committed the bizarre crime

During his court testimony, Muller detailed how he used computer-generated voices during the break-in to make it seem as if more than one intruder was involved.

Muller said he put blackened swim goggles over Huskins and Quinn’s eyes and placed headphones over their ears to force them to listen to a message warning that Huskins’ face would be cut or she would be hit with an electric shock if they didn’t comply with his demands, according to court documents.

Prosecutors also said that Muller used a remote-controlled drone to spy on Huskins and Quinn’s activities prior to breaking into their home.

Muller is sentenced on multiple federal and state charges

Muller eventually pleaded guilty to federal kidnapping charges and was sentenced to 40 years in prison in March 2018.

Four years later, Muller was sentenced to 31 years in a state prison after pleading no contest to two counts of forcible rape in the case.

He also pleaded guilty to robbery of an inhabited dwelling, residential burglary and false imprisonment.

Muller remains in prison, where he is serving the state sentence concurrently with the federal sentence.

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