Crime - Sacto 911

Vallejo woman and boyfriend insist kidnap was real

A news crew reports on the abduction of Denise Huskins in front of the home she was taken from, in Vallejo on Wednesday.
A news crew reports on the abduction of Denise Huskins in front of the home she was taken from, in Vallejo on Wednesday. The Associated Press

Denise Huskins, the Vallejo woman who police said faked her own abduction for ransom, met with detectives Thursday after nearly 24 hours of silence in an effort to “clear her name,” her attorney told The Sacramento Bee.

In the first public statement on the bizarre case of Huskins’ reported kidnapping, Douglas Rappaport, a San Francisco-based lawyer, said his client had lived through an unspeakable ordeal over the past several days.

“She’s distraught, like any woman would respond when they’re a victim of a violent assault and then revictimized by officers who were quick to judge,” Rappaport said in a phone interview with The Bee. “She’s suffered abuse no human being should have to go through.”

In submitting to an interview with Vallejo detectives Thursday morning and releasing a statement through her lawyer, who held a news conference Thursday night, Huskins was signaling to detectives, and to the public, that she had nothing to hide, Rappaport said. He declined to go into the details of Huskins’ alleged abduction.

“She has always been cooperative,” he said.

His statement came just hours after lawyers for Aaron Quinn, Huskins’ boyfriend and the only other eyewitness to the alleged crime, announced that Quinn had been drugged, bound and assaulted during the abduction.

They decried the idea the couple faked the two-day kidnapping as unbelievable and accused the police of jumping to conclusions.

Quinn, they said, was ready to pay an $8,500 ransom and subjected himself to several hours of police questioning in an effort to help find Huskins.

Huskins, the lawyers said, wasn’t in any financial distress. She had a good job and zero history of drug and alcohol abuse, Quinn’s attorney, Daniel Russo, said Thursday outside of his downtown Vallejo law office.

“None of this makes any sense,” Russo said.

Huskins’ family believes her, too, and said the fact that she didn’t meet with police Wednesday, which raised investigators’ suspicions, wasn’t suspicious at all.

Rappaport said she was afraid of being mistreated once she learned that she had gone from victim to suspect in the eyes of police.

What both sides seem to agree on is this: Quinn told police that Huskins was kidnapped from their Mare Island house sometime between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Monday. It took him several hours to call 911.

Then the details begin to diverge. Quinn’s lawyers said he called for help about noon, though police said it happened around 2 p.m.

The people who allegedly kidnapped Huskins were asking for a ransom of $8,500 – a sum which was not paid because police discouraged Quinn from doing so, his attorneys said. The ransom request was directed at Quinn, since it was he, according to his attorneys, who was being targeted. Attorneys offered no explanation for why Quinn, who, like Huskins, is a Kaiser Permanente physical therapist, was subjected to a ransom demand.

More than 40 detectives from local, state and federal agencies led a search throughout the region and beyond for Huskins. Dive teams and search dogs scoured the Mare Island Strait. The search continued through Tuesday night.

That day, a ransom note and “proof of life” message were emailed to the San Francisco Chronicle. In the message, Huskins identified herself and said she was alive, and her alleged captors wrote she would be returned safely but warned against any moves by law enforcement.

On Wednesday morning, Huskins reappeared in her hometown of Huntington Beach – walking near her parents’ homes. She was met at her father’s apartment building by local police officers, who released her into the custody of her family.

Huskins and her family dropped out of contact with police after she was invited back to Vallejo to speak to detectives, police said. Though she initially seemed cooperative she vanished before the scheduled departure of a plane that was to fly her back from Orange County late Wednesday.

Her initial disappearance, combined with what police said was a lack of evidence to support Quinn’s claims, led police Wednesday night to publicly say the kidnapping never happened and the two day search was a waste of time.

“Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins have plundered valuable resources away from our community and taken the focus away from the true victims of our community while instilling fear in our community members,” Vallejo police spokesman Lt. Kenny Park said at the news conference. “We wasted all these resources on basically nothing.”

But Quinn’s lawyers insisted Thursday that police had a “room full of evidence” that the kidnapping happened where and when the couple claim it did.

Quinn’s lawyers explained away the time lapse between the alleged kidnapping and when their client called police by telling a crowd of assembled reporters that Quinn had been forced to drink something that was spiked with a drug. Then, they said, his limbs were bound.

“The details of this abduction are absolutely bizarre,” Russo said. “I’ve never heard anything like it.”

Quinn voluntarily subjected himself to 17 hours of questioning with the FBI without once asking for an attorney, his lawyer said. He offered police unfettered access to his electronic devices, gave them blood and DNA samples, and volunteered to allow detectives entry to his home, Russo said.

“His concern during all that time was that the woman not be harmed or killed,” Russo said. “One of the concerns we had was, is this woman going to turn up in a ditch?”

It was not immediately clear whether Huskins or Quinn could face criminal charges at the state or federal level for their alleged involvement in a supposed hoax. No warrant has been issued for the arrest of either, though Park said two Vallejo detectives were sent Wednesday to Huntington Beach.

“We will do whatever it takes to clear her name,” said Rappaport, who added that there was “absolutely no way” Huskins should be charged.

The Solano County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that the investigation still rests with the Vallejo Police Department.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that it received another email from Huskins’ alleged kidnappers Thursday. This time, the alleged abductors wrote, they wanted to clear Huskins of suspicion.

The Bee’s Bill Lindelof contributed to this report. Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.

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