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Did This 29-Year-Old California Woman Fake Her Own Abduction or What?

Illustration for article titled Did This 29-Year-Old California Woman Fake Her Own Abduction or What?

Here's a strange story out of California: in the early afternoon on Monday of this week, 30-year-old Vallejo resident Aaron Quinn called the police, saying that his girlfriend, 29-year-old Denise Huskins, had been kidnapped from his house that morning and was being held for ransom. Huskins' father spoke to the local news channel, expressing the first seeds of doubt:

Her father describes his daughter as a strong woman, a marathon runner, and a person who would put up a fight if someone tried to abduct her.

Mike told ABC7 News at this point, he has no reason to doubt what police are telling him — that his daughter was kidnapped from her boyfriend's home, but he does have some doubts.

"It just doesn't seem right... that she would just let somebody take her. I don't know. She's not that type of person, believe me. If you knew her," Mike said.

The question of what "type of person" is most easily abducted is a dubious one, but regardless, it was strange both to Mike Huskins and the police department that Aaron Quinn didn't call the police until well after he said Huskins had been kidnapped. Again, to ABC7:

"If he was tied up... maybe something like that was happening, I don't know. Maybe he was tied up," Mike said.


There was, supposedly, a $8,500 ransom for Huskins' return; "more than 75" people went looking for her in the area, a search that involved divers and dogs and sonar equipment, according to the Washington Post. Then, on Wednesday morning, Huskins was found in Huntington Beach. The FBI and Vallejo Police Department "dispatched a jet" to bring her back, and then Huskins disappeared again; she never got on the flight.

From a Vallejo PD press release sent out on Wednesday night:

Since the inception of this investigation on Monday, March 23, 2015, The Vallejo Police Department has requested and received the assistance of multiple law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels. At any given time, over 40 Detectives and over 100 support personnel have been searching for and investigating the disappearance of Ms. Huskins in hopes of securing her safe return.

The Investigation will continue to look at any and all evidence. The Vallejo Police Department would like to thank all of those agencies and volunteers who have come out to assist in the search. If evidence indicates that either Ms. Huskins or Mr. Quinn have committed a criminal act, the Vallejo Police Department will request either state or federal charges. The Vallejo Police Department would like to ensure the public that there is no indication that this was a random act of violence.


Emphasis mine. But then, the police tracked her down once more. Huskins was interviewed by Vallejo police on Thursday, and last night, her attorney gave a statement:

"She is one hundred percent, positively a victim," Doug Rappaport said. [...] "This is no hoax. This is no laughing matter," Rappaport said. "She was a victim of a very serious assault. Like a number of women who have been victims."


Quinn's attorney has also given a statement, as of last night:

Dan Russo [] said Thursday that Quinn has "cooperated fully with the authorities," including in a 17-hour interrogation and seven visits to the police station. Russo said there was more than one kidnapper, and that Quinn was drugged and bound.

"He was forced to drink something that even the kidnappers said was a drug," Russo said.

Quinn's attorney said they do not know why authorities are implying the incident is a "hoax."


Further complicating factors: apparently, the San Francisco Chronicle received an email on Tuesday "from an anonymous person claiming to be holding Denise Huskins."

The newspaper reported the email said that Huskins "will be returned safely [Wednesday]" and that "any advance on us or our associates will create a dangerous situation for Denise."

The email was also reported to include an audio file of a woman identifying herself as Huskins who referred to Tuesday's plane crash in southern France — ostensibly as a time marker for proof of life.


The Vallejo police have confirmed that they received the same email and audio file; a day later, they came down on the side of the situation being a hoax, with Police Lieutenant Kenny Park later reiterating that "none of the claims have been substantiated."

Park also said that the situation seemed like a "wild goose chase," and that there was "a tremendous amount of resources that in my opinion was wasted." Both Huskins and Quinn could face charges if they did fake this event.


From Huskins' Facebook page, which is public:

Illustration for article titled Did This 29-Year-Old California Woman Fake Her Own Abduction or What?

Photo via AP

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I actually had a friend who did this back in college (faked her own kidnapping, got found out by the police/media). It is a weird-ass situation to be involved in. At first, I was convinced she was dead, because that's what happens when pretty young women disappear. Then everyone I knew was ecstatic when they found her alive and well. And then it slowly came out that the whole thing was fake, and nobody knew how to take it. It's a hell of an emotional roller-coaster.