Netflix’s latest true crime entry American Nightmare has taken the streaming giant by storm, ranking third since being added to the platform’s catalog earlier this month.
The three-episode docuseries follows the March 2015 case of Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, who were woken in the dead of night by a home invader in Vallejo city in California.
The invader allegedly zip-tied Huskins and Quinn, put duct tape-covered goggles over their eyes, and drugged them. The invader then kidnapped Huskins for ransom, putting her in the trunk of Quinn’s car and driving her to Huntington Beach city, according to Tudum.
Quinn was placed under custody and kidnappers attempted to contact him via phone and email for the ransom, but according to TIME Magazine, the police placed his phone on airplane mode.
But when Huskins returned 48 hours later, seemingly unharmed, she said she had been raped twice by her kidnapper.
The police, however, didn’t believe Quinn and Huskins. They accused the couple of faking her kidnapping, with the incident being dubbed as the “real-life Gone Girl,” referring to the 2014 film adaptation of the 2012 novel of the same title. (The thriller starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck follows a woman who fakes her own kidnapping amid her husband’s infidelity.)
But alas, Quinn and Huskins’ experience was indeed real, after police in Dublin city drew a connection to a similar incident the following June.
PEOPLE Magazine reported that the couple woke up in the middle of the night as an attacker shone a light in their faces. The woman ran into the bathroom and called 911, while the man fought the attacker off.
The attacker escaped but left behind a phone and other items like zip ties, duct tape, and a glove.
Detective Misty Carasau, who was also involved in Huskins and Quinn’s case, traced the phone to the stepfather of a certain Matthew Muller, a former Marine and Harvard Law-educated immigration attorney.
Carasau reached out to other Bay Area law enforcement agencies and found Muller was a suspect in a 2009 home invasion robbery in Palo Alto.
Police went to Muller’s cabin and found items like a toy gun with an attached laser pointer and duct-taped goggles with a blonde strand of hair attached, Forbes reported.
Muller was then arrested and charged with kidnapping and assault.
What happened to Muller?
Muller told authorities he suffered from “Gulf War syndrome.” According to the National Institutes of Health, its symptoms include affective problems, fatigue, joint and muscle aches, cognitive problems, headaches, respiratory complaints, gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, and skin problems.
His lawyer claimed later on that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
He pleaded guilty to a count of federal kidnapping in 2016.
He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to PEOPLE, but Forbes said he’s serving his 31-year sentence since 2022.
Muller also faced state charges of kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and two counts of rape by force. In November 2020, however, he was deemed incompetent to stand trial for that case, according to PEOPLE.
To date, it’s unknown whether Muller acted alone when he committed his crimes.
American Nightmare is directed by Felicity Morris and Bernadette Higgins, who were also behind Netflix’s 2022 true crime documentary, The Tinder Swindler.
The newest docuseries has a mix of interrogation footage and new interviews.