Netflix's new true crime series, "American Nightmare," sheds light on the 2015 kidnapping of Denise Huskins, which police falsely claimed at the time was a hoax
• Denise Huskins was kidnapped and sexually assaulted, but police publicly dismissed her claims as a hoax
• The 2015 case became known as the "Gone Girl" kidnapping, referencing the 2012 novel and 2014 movie about a phony kidnapping
• The pair were vindicated when Huskins' rapist was caught three months after Huskins' return
The Vallejo, Calif., couple was awakened in the middle of the night by armed intruders, drugged, and blindfolded before Huskins was kidnapped for two days and raped twice by her captor.
The kidnapper demanded $8,500 in ransom, but Huskins would soon turn up at her mother's home in Orange County, a few hours before the ransom was due two days after she was kidnapped.
Police didn’t believe Quinn when he first called 911 after freeing himself, or when Huskins reappeared at her family’s home. Instead, police publicly dismissed their story, which quickly drew comparisons to the 2012 novel and 2014 film Gone Girl.
Now, Huskins and Quinn’s story is the subject of a Netflix true crime series, American Nightmare. The three-part documentary begins streaming Wednesday.
Huskins and Quinn, both working as physical therapists at the time of the kidnapping, spoke with PEOPLE several weeks ago about the harrowing experience that upended their lives nearly a decade ago.
“I don't know if I would've had the confidence to be able to return to work knowing that people would still think that I'm some con artist or hoaxer,” Huskins said. “A big part of our job is putting our hands on people, quite literally, to help facilitate their healing. And a big piece of that is trust and how can you trust someone who lied about something so significant as a kidnapping? I'm not sure where we'd be.”
Quinn said their case "didn't require Sherlock Holmes," just "basic police work.”
“Those months in between were unsustainable and we weren't able to go back to work,” Quinn said. “Partly because of trauma and partly because they wouldn't let us. Who wants to hire a hoaxer? So that's a big challenge in the digital age. You can't move towns and get away from it. Anyone can just search you and then decide 'I don't want to work with this person,' or 'I don't want to hire this person.'"
Police initially didn’t believe the couple, who said a group of intruders wearing scuba gear had infiltrated their home in the middle of the night armed with taser guns and bound the young couple with zip ties inside a closet in their home.
Authorities finally caught a break in the case three months after Huskins’ shocking return when a chance discovery at a similar crime scene roughly 40 miles away linked Matthew Muller, a former Marine and disbarred Harvard-educated immigration attorney, to their kidnapping.
Muller, now 44, pleaded guilty to one federal kidnapping charge and was later sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was also charged at the state level with one charge for kidnapping, two counts of rape, as well as robbery and burglary charges.
Huskins and Quinn would go on to sue the City of Vallejo for defamation, claiming that instead of helping them find the kidnapper, Vallejo police instead “destroyed their reputations through an outrageous, completely unprofessional, and wholly unfounded claim of disparagement.”
The couple would eventually win a $2.5 million settlement in 2018.
Muller was found mentally incompetent to stand trial, leaving Huskins and Quinn with lingering questions about why they were targeted.
"Like many victims, or many people who have gone through tragedy, you don't get all the answers,” Quinn said. "And that can be a sticking point to recovery. So for us, we don't rely on finding those answers, but what we have to do is move forward in the unknown and focus on things that matter the most to us, like our family, our kids, our work. Those are sustainable things. And having the answers of why they targeted us doesn't change what we do as far as moving forward.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.
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Read the original article on People.