In the dead of night on March 23rd, 2015, Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, experienced a harrowing home invasion in Vallejo, California. The events that unfolded that night became the centre of a bizarre and twisted media trial. The Netflix docuseries American Nightmare, released this week, will shed light on what happened.
Directed by Felicity Morris and Bernadette Higgins, the three-part documentary delves into the shocking story of Huskins’ kidnapping and the subsequent disbelief and scrutiny faced by the couple. It’s a series of events befitting the titular state and the kind of story that sends chills down your spine.
Experiencing a harrowing event is one thing, but not being believed is quite another. Initially doubted by authorities and the media, their account was dismissed. Only when the real perpetrator, Matthew Muller, was captured due to a similar crime were Huskins and Quinn treated as the victims in their case.
The official synopsis reads: “After a home invasion and abduction, a young couple’s recounting of the events is too far-fetched for the police to believe. Why did the victims seem so calm? Was it all a hoax?” it is these latter questions which plagued the victims’ trial.
Read on to know the true story behind the chilling true crime documentary American Nightmare before the series arrives on Netflix on January 12th.
What is the true story behind American Nightmare?
Matthew Muller, a disbarred Harvard-trained attorney and ex-Marine, broke into the couple’s home in Vallejo, drugged them and took Huskins to the Tahoe area. Muller raped Huskins and released her two days later in Southern California near her father’s home. Following the brutality she faced, Huskins was initially afraid that she wouldn’t survive the ordeal.
Like all crimes, this one was heavily investigated; however, it seemed to stall. The motive behind the abduction was initially unclear, and the couple faced scepticism from law enforcement, complicating the investigation.
The incident was wrongfully dubbed the ‘Gone Girl’ case in the media after the 2012 Gillian Flynn novel. The intense media attention and law enforcement cast doubt on the credibility of the young couple. They thought it was a hoax orchestrated by the couple. Muller’s subsequent capture in connection with a similar crime led to his identification and a 40-year prison sentence.
The legal aftermath involved a civil lawsuit against the city, resulting in a $2.5million settlement. Despite the challenges and false accusations, Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn are married now but still dealing with the emotional aftermath of their traumatic experience.
American Nightmare invites viewers to consider the consequences of media trials and negligent law enforcement. You can watch American Nightmare on Netflix now.