The high-profile 2015 case involving the home invasion and abduction of Denise Huskins gained national attention, earning the moniker ‘Gone Girl.’ Many doubted the authenticity of this entire ordeal and suspected her of orchestrating a ruse, akin to the plot of the movie with the same title. However, the eventual conviction of Matthew Muller in connection to the matter shed light on the true events. The Netflix documentary ‘American Nightmare’ explores this case, Muller’s background, and his connections to other offenses.
Who is Matthew Muller?
Matthew Muller served in the US Marine Corps from 1995 to 1997, stationed in Okinawa, Japan. During his time there, he reportedly worked in a newspaper off-base and frequently played the trumpet in the service band. After his discharge, he settled in California for good, where he pursued his education, graduating summa cum laude from Pomona College. Subsequently, he gained admission to Harvard Law School. During his third year there, he began experiencing various illnesses and developed extreme paranoia, believing that the government was monitoring all his activities. In the summer of 2008, he thus received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Despite his health challenges, Muller successfully graduated and commenced his career as a lawyer.
In fact, in 2013, Muller held an immigration lawyer position at the Kerosky Purves & Bogue firm. However, his professional license faced suspension within the same year due to his failure to pay the required annual dues. He was then disbarred, especially as it came to light he had accepted a payment exceeding $1,000 from a client but failed to initiate the green card application process for them. Yet the truth is Muller’s engagement in unlawful activities had apparently begun several years before these professional setbacks.
In 2009, a woman named Tracey was asleep in her Palo Alto home when an intruder, allegedly Muller, forcibly entered. He proceeded to restrain her hands, blindfold her, and inform her of his intention to sexually assault her. Though upon hearing Tracey’s distressed repeated pleas, he surprisingly decided not to carry out any harm. Instead, he gave her advice on ways to enhance her safety before leaving the premises. She reported the incident to the police, and although Muller was a suspect, insufficient evidence prevented his arrest at that time.
Then there’s the fact that in 2014, a group of students residing on Mare Island experienced harassment from an unidentified individual who would surreptitiously approach their windows, take pictures, and quickly flee. The news circulated within the community, causing widespread fear. Despite countless formal complaints, the authorities allegedly took no action, driving the students to take matters into their own hands. Frustrated by the lack of response, they actually trailed this individual, just to learn he was a former military member as well as a lawyer residing in the area. It was later believed that this harasser was Matthew Muller.
When Matthew abducted Denise Huskins from her residence on March 23, 2015, he transported her to a small cabin in the woods where he held her captive for approximately two days. During and after this period, he sent emails outlining bits of his executed offense to journalist Henry Lee. However, when Lee shared this information with the local police, there was little interest from their side.
Muller also demanded a ransom from Denise’s boyfriend, Aaron Quinn. Failing to receive any response, he eventually released her near her childhood home in Huntington Beach. Despite the ordeal, the police and media remained skeptical of her kidnapping, expressing disbelief and insinuating that she and Aaron had orchestrated the event themselves, so Muller remained free.
Yet things changed ten weeks after Denise’s kidnapping as Muller carried out an eerily similar home invasion in Dublin, attempting to abduct a 22-year-old girl upon restraining her parents. However, the family managed to call the police, prompting him to hastily leave the scene, unintentionally leaving a cell phone behind. The police traced this device to his mother, who, unaware of the recent events, disclosed that he was residing in her holiday cabin in Salt Lake Tahoe. Acting swiftly, officials executed a search warrant on the property. They discovered zip ties, duct tape, and swimming goggles resembling those used on Denise. This evidence directly linked him to the assault and kidnapping of Denise as well as some other crimes, leading to his arrest on June 8, 2015.
Matthew Muller is Incarcerated Today
In 2016, Matthew Muller pled guilty to federal charges related to the kidnapping of Denise Huskins. The federal prosecutors lacked the authority to charge him for the assault and robbery of Aaron Quinn, Denise’s boyfriend, but the state did not. Therefore, with a 40-year sentence already under his belt, Muller was scheduled to stand trial for state charges in 2021, including Huskins’ rape as well as home invasion. During this time, he was undergoing treatment at the Napa State Hospital for his mental condition, and it was determined that he was not fit to stand trial.
Matthew Muller’s trial hence finally commenced in Solano County Superior Court in 2022, where he entered a plea of no contest to two charges of forcible acts plus additional counts like the false imprisonment of Aaron. He received a 31-year sentence, to be served concurrently with his existing 40-year federal sentence. Currently 46 years old, Muller is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution – Tucson and will be eligible for parole in 2049.
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