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Gone Girl Denise Huskins – the Real-Life Kidnapping that Police Ignored as a Hoax Because It Was So Bizarre


The abduction of Denise Huskins

On March 23, 2015, at 1:53 PM, a Kaiser Permanente physical therapist, Aaron Quinn, called police in Vallejo, California to report a kidnapping and ransom demand for $8,500 dollars. According to Quinn, he and his live-in girlfriend, Denise Huskins, awoke at 3:00 AM to blinding, bright lights shining in their faces. The kidnapper[s] ordered Huskins to bind Quinn’s legs with zipties (Aaron and Denise later told police that they could not see how many men there were). Swim goggles with covered lenses were placed over Quinn and Huskins’ eyes. The kidnappers placed headphones on Quinn’s head and soon, Quinn heard a pre-recorded message listing the abductors’ demands for the return of his girlfriend.

29-year-old Denise Huskins was a beautiful So-Cal girl, 5’ 7” and about 145 lbs. with sun-tinted blonde hair and glowing hazel eyes. She worked as a physical therapist alongside Quinn at Kaiser Permanente, and lived with him in his charming, two-story yellow home on the 500 block of Kirkland Avenue.

The kidnappers told Quinn they had stashed cameras in the home and that they would see every move he made after they left the scene. He was ordered to refrain from calling the police and then instructed to drink a liquid offered to him in a cup. Drugged to unconsciousness, Quinn fell into a deep asleep while the abductors placed Huskins in the trunk of Quinn’s 2000 Toyota Camry and drove away.

Authorities suspect a hoax

Police found $8,500 an unusually low amount for a ransom demand and wondered why Quinn took so long to report the kidnapping. Later that day, Quinn was questioned by the police for more than seventeen hours. When Quinn recognized that the line of questioning pointed to him as the primary suspect, he requested his attorneys, Amy Morton and Dan Russo, be present. With consent from the attorneys, Quinn provided the police full access to his home and turned over his computer, cellphone, clothes, passwords, and blood and fingerprint tests. Even Huskins’ father supported him, insisting that Quinn had not been involved. In fact, Huskins’ father told police that just days earlier, his daughter had told him, “Dad, I think I’m in love.”

Newspapers covering the event called the story “a possible kidnapping”. However, opinions changed the following day after the kidnappers did the unexpected and began communicating with the police through San Francisco’s largest newspaper. On March 24, 2015, The San Francisco Chronicle received an audible recording of Huskins, “I’m kidnapped, otherwise I’m fine.” Huskins also provided a recent news event as proof she was still alive: “Earlier today, there was a plane crash in the Alps and 158 people died.” Included with the recording was a note from the kidnappers that read:

“Huskins will be returned safely (Wednesday). We will send a link to her location after she has been dropped off. She will be in good health and safe while she waits. Any advance on us or our associates will create a dangerous situation for Denise. Wait until she is recovered and then proceed how you will. We will be ready.”

As expected, Aaron Quinn was overjoyed to hear his fiancé was still alive:

“When I heard the recording, that gave me hope.”

Renewing their efforts, police focused their search on Mare Island, an inlet in Vallejo where the young couple lived. More than 100 personnel joined the search as police combed the Mare Island waterfront. Police were quick to stress that there was no specific tip that led them to the location – they were simply focusing on the area which was in close proximity to Huskins’ home.

Huskins reappears 400 miles away in her hometown

Two days after the abduction, on March 25, 2015, Huskins’ father, Mike Huskins, received a voice message from his daughter. The message simply stated that she was safe, near her parents’ home in Huntington Beach, 400 miles from where she was taken. According to Denise, the kidnappers “just dropped her off”.

At the time of the phone call, Mike Huskins was not near his home in Hunting Beach but rather, had travelled to Vallejo to assist in the search for his daughter. He told reporters that upon receiving the unexpected message from his daughter:

“I almost had a heart attack. I tried to get authorities to pick her up, but they kept asking me a bunch of questions. I said, ‘Send a squad car.’ I was hyperventilating.”

Police again hint something is awry

Mike informed the police where Huskins said she was located and hurried back to Huntington Beach where he found Denise safe and sound in his apartment. She was of course, terrified and in shock. Vallejo investigators worked with the FBI to arrange an interview with Denise and agreed to fly her back to Northern California for questioning. They issued a public statement which once again sounded oddly suspicious.

“We are still treating this as a kidnap for ransom. We have no reason to believe otherwise. At this point, from an investigative standpoint, nothing has changed.”

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