A former marine and disbarred Harvard University attorney was sentenced to prison but avoided the maximum sentence in the bizarre kidnapping case of a woman two years ago.
Matthew Muller, 39, was sentenced in a U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California, after pleading guilty in September to kidnapping Denise Huskins on March 23, 2015 in Vallejo, California, according to People.com.
The kidnapping case was so incredulous that initially, police publicly dismissed the story as a hoax.
The Associated Press reports that Muller used a remote-controlled drone to spy on Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn at Quinn’s home, before breaking into the house, tying the couple up, and then forcing them to drink a sleep-inducing drug.
Muller then blindfolded both of them, and played a recording that made it seem as though he had accomplices. He then left Quinn in the house but kidnapped Huskins, placed her in the trunk of his car, and drove her to his home in South Lake Tahoe. Muller kept Huskins for two days before releasing her.
Quinn contacted the police to report what had happened, and told them that Muller had demanded $8,500 ransom for Huskins’ return. When Huskins did return 48-hours later, police believed the couple had perpetrated a hoax.
The case was later dubbed the ‘Gone Girl’ case, based on the best-selling novel about a woman who goes stages her disappearance to get revenge on her cheating husband, and when she returns, pretends that she had been kidnapped by an obsessive former flame.
But Denise Huskins wasn’t making anything up: When Muller was later arrested for an attempted robbery, authorities found evidence, including a computer that Muller had stolen from Quinn’s home.
Vallejo police have since apologized, but Huskins is suing two police officers involved in the case, and the city of Vallejo. She has accused them of defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
Huskins and Quinn testified about the long term effects of their ordeal at Muller’s hearing. Huskins said, “I still have nightmares every night. Sleep is not rest for me. It is a trigger.”
Muller was facing a possible life sentence, but prosecutors agreed to 40 years in exchange for Muller’s guilty plea.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports, Muller’s attorney argued for a 30-year sentence, saying his client was bipolar and needed treatment.
According to the Chronicle, Muller said in court, “I’m sick with shame that my actions have brought such devastation. I hope my imprisonment can bring closure to Aaron and Denise and I’m prepared for any sentence the court imposes.”
Photo: Associated Press