It's been three years since Denise Huskins was abducted from her home in Vallejo, CA, but this so-called "Gone Girl" kidnapping case is getting new attention on account of her and her fiancé Aaron Quinn's recent lawsuit against the city and its police department. Denise and Aaron accused the police of defamation and said they suffered emotional distress after the cops called the case a hoax. And earlier this month, the city settled the suit — without admitting wrongdoing — and awarded the couple $2.5 million. Here's everything to know about Denise and Aaron's years-long ordeal
In the early morning hours of March 23, 2015, Aaron was drugged and Denise was kidnapped by at least one home intruder, if not more. Denise was held for ransom; but then, miraculously, she was released 48 hours later in Huntington Beach, CA. She says, however, she was bound, drugged, and raped twice during that timeframe.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Denise said she thought she was going to die when her kidnapper took her for a car ride. "I could tell that it was dark," she said. "I couldn't hear other people around. When he opened the car door I thought, like, 'This is it.' Like, either I'm going to hear a gunshot and that's it, or I'm going to get pushed off a cliff. I thought I was walking to my death. Then I heard a door close behind me. And I pulled up the blindfold. And I saw a toilet and a cement room. And I thought, 'Oh, God, he is going to release me.' But until that point I'm like, 'He's just saying this,' and I was just expecting at any moment it was over."
Aaron, who was then Denise's boyfriend, said the police unfairly pegged him as a suspect during their investigation. Even worse, the police called the kidnapping a hoax. "There is no evidence to support the claims that this was a stranger abduction or an abduction at all," the police said in a statement at the time. That's when the case got its nickname, a reference to the abduction hoax in the novel Gone Girl.
But then, 38-year-old Matthew Muller, a Harvard-educated lawyer and a former Marine, was arrested for another home invasion robbery nearby. That invasion bore similarities to the one Denise and Aaron faced, and Matthew was soon charged in Denise's kidnapping. He pleaded guilty and is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence.
That result and the recent lawsuit settlement probably give Denise and Aaron a sense of vindication. "This is only strange because the law enforcement made it strange," Aaron told ABC News. "This was people who broke into my home, threatened my family, threatened to hurt the person they kidnapped, charged a ransom. And if you just look at it that way, it was a kidnapping. They got distracted by other things. And they made it strange. If they came out and said, 'This is a kidnapping,' followed the evidence, [and] got Denise back, no one would be talking about Gone Girl or anything like that. They're the ones who made it strange."