Abducted from her residence one night, Denise Huskins entered survival mode, yearning to safely return home. However, upon her successful return, she was shocked by the reception she encountered. Anticipating victim treatment, Denise found herself labeled a hoax and subjected to various accusations. Netflix’s ‘American Nightmare’ delves into the events surrounding her ordeal, exploring whether she received the justice rightfully due to her.
What Happened to Denise Huskins?
In 2014, Denise Huskins entered a relationship with Aaron Quinn, and the two worked as physical therapists in Vallejo, California, situated in the Bay Area. At that time, he had recently ended an engagement with a woman named Andrea, who also worked at the same hospital. Despite this, Denise and Aaron built their own life together, often spending time at his home on Mare Island. However, in 2015, she discovered that he had maintained contact with his ex and expressed a desire to reconcile with her. This revelation led to a lasting argument, but they resolved their issues on the evening of March 22, 2015, when Aaron committed to seeking therapy to move past his previous relationship.
Around 3 a.m. on March 23, Denise and Aaron were awakened by intense lights directed at their eyes, accompanied by a declaration that it was a robbery. The intruders used laser beams, blindfolded 29-year-old Denise with swimming goggles taped over her eyes, secured her hands with zip ties, and administered drugs to induce drowsiness. Aaron was treated the same way. Subsequently, Denise was escorted downstairs and placed in the trunk of a car, which she perceived to be similar to a Mustang. Despite her efforts, she couldn’t discern their destination. Eventually, she was removed from the car, detecting the scent of pine trees, and ushered into a house.
Confined to a room with her swimming goggles still on, Denise was assured by her captor that cooperation would spare her from harm. Throughout the following day, he provided her with timely meals and ensured regular bathroom breaks. He then disclosed his intention to kidnap Andrea, Aaron’s ex-fiancée, emphasizing that Denise was not the intended target. Later that night, he informed Denise that he lacked the collateral to release her and proposed a solution: recording a video of them engaging in sexual activity. She felt cornered and frightened since she had no other choice, and he proceeded to rape her. On this day, she was also made to record an audio in which she stated that she was safe and a current event to signify that the audio was recorded in the present and made to state a random anecdote from her life. The audio recording was sent to a reporter named Henry Lee.
The next day, the captor came back and told Denise that the video recording of them engaging in sexual activity was not good enough. He said it had to look consensual and as if like she was enjoying it, so they would have to make another tape. After filming the rape for a second time, she had no hopes of going back but to her surprise, in the evening, her kidnapper told her to get in the car so he could drop her back. He told her that there were a lot of police and media near her home in Mare Island so he would have to drop her near her family’s house in Huntington Beach, California. Denise put her swimming goggles back on — he’d allowed her to remove it when he wasn’t in her presence — and made the journey and after getting off from the car, she knew she was on the same street she had walked growing up.
Disheartened by the subsequent treatment Denise received from both the police and the media, who had unfairly labeled her as the ‘Gone Girl’ reminiscent of the movie where the female lead stages her abduction, the situation took a turn in June 2015. A similar incident in Dublin, California led to the identification of the perpetrator, Matthew Muller. A search of Muller’s residence uncovered the swimming goggles that Denise was forced to wear. Through the dedicated efforts of a singular police officer, Misty Carausu, the goggles were connected to Denise, ultimately clearing her name in the public eye. Matthew Muller was subsequently prosecuted and sentenced to jail for his actions.
Denise Huskins is a Mother of Two Daughters Today
Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, managed to rebuild and strengthen their relationship in the weeks following her return. The challenges they faced seemed to bring them closer together, and their bond deepened with each passing day. A sense of closure and peace entered their lives when Matthew Muller was convicted. In 2016, they took legal action against the City of Vallejo, its police division, and specific officers, citing various allegations, and in 2021, they penned down their ordeals in a book titled ‘Victim F: From Crime Victims to Suspects to Survivors.’
Having built a strong foundation in their relationship, Denise and Aaron got engaged in March 2017 and then tied the knot in 2018. It was in the same year that their case against the City of Vallejo was also settled outside the court for $2.5 million in compensation, but Denise has still vehemently maintained that more than one person was involved in her kidnapping. Currently, she serves as a doctor of physical therapy and recently celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary with Aaron (in September 2023). They have two daughters together, Olivia, who was born in 2020, and Naomi, whom they welcomed in 2022. A vocal advocate for the survivors of sexual violence, Denise is living her life proud and accomplished and surrounded by the love of family and friends.