SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Matthew Muller, 39, of South Lake Tahoe, was sentenced today to 40 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on March 23, 2015, in Vallejo, Muller broke into the Mare Island home of Aaron Quinn and Denise Huskins. Armed with a stun gun and a simulated firearm with a laser sight, Muller ordered the victims to lie still while he bound them, blindfolded them, and forced them to drink a sedative. Muller played the victims a prerecorded message, which threatened that any noncompliance would be punished by face cutting or electric shock. Muller then placed Ms. Huskins in the trunk of a car and drove her to his residence in South Lake Tahoe. Once there, Muller kept her under his complete control, at times bound and blindfolded. Muller sent Mr. Quinn two emails demanding ransom for a total of $17,000. Muller released Ms. Huskins on March 25, 2015 in Huntington Beach, with no ransom ever being paid.
During and after the kidnapping, Muller sent emails to a reporter in San Francisco that falsely claimed, among other things, that the kidnapping had been carried out by a group of elite criminals who were perfecting their kidnapping-for-ransom tactics.
The case remained unsolved until after June 8, 2015, when Dublin Police Services of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department arrested Muller and searched his South Lake Tahoe residence. The officers had been investigating a home invasion burglary, which led them to Muller's residence where they located and seized evidence related to the Vallejo kidnapping.
The FBI then conducted its own follow-up investigation and searches that included Muller's South Lake Tahoe residence, a vehicle in Reno, two other residences, and Muller's Vallejo storage locker. The storage locker, which contained aerial drones referred to in Muller's email to the media, had been located by an officer of the Vallejo Police Department.
FBI analysis of Muller's computers uncovered a sound recording that simulated people whispering to each other and a sound recording consistent with the instructions given to Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins. FBI analysts also discovered video recordings of Muller together with Ms. Huskins in his South Lake Tahoe residence. She was blindfolded and fully under Muller's control. FBI analysts also discovered video recordings of Muller in his South Lake Tahoe residence arranging cameras in a bedroom, trying out their viewing angles, and then twice sexually assaulting the blindfolded Ms. Huskins.
In sentencing Muller, Judge Nunley referred to the defendant's actions as heinous and held him responsible for his actions.
U.S. Attorney Talbert said, “The sentence imposed today reflects the egregiousness of Muller's conduct in this case. Muller had advantages in life that most people only dream of, yet he used his considerable intelligence to plan and execute the physical assault and psychological torture of two innocent strangers. It is difficult to imagine the level of suffering that Muller inflicted on his victims. The sentence handed down today takes into account that suffering and strives to ensure that Muller will never again commit such crimes.”
U.S. Attorney Talbert also said, “This serious violent crime was solved because Alameda County authorities responded so effectively to the Dublin burglary and then provided the evidence necessary for the effective federal investigation and prosecution of this case. The quality of local and federal investigative work is reflected in Muller's two criminal convictions in Alameda County and in the Eastern District of California. I am grateful for the outstanding cooperation between the FBI, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, the Alameda County District Attorney, and the Vallejo Police Department.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the FBI, the Dublin Police Services of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, and the Vallejo Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew D. Segal and Heiko P. Coppola prosecuted the case.
USAO – California, Eastern Topic: Violent Crime Updated March 16, 2017
Eastern District of California DOJ / March 16, 2017