'American Nightmare' Kidnapping Victim Reacts to 'Gone Girl' Comparisons

American Nightmare’s Denise Huskins Didn’t Understand ‘Gone Girl’ Comparisons After Kidnapping

Denise Huskins.
Courtesy of Netflix

When American Nightmare subject Denise Huskins was kidnapped from her Vallejo, California, home in 2015, she was referred to as a real-life Gone Girl — something she didn’t understand at the time.

“I remember the second day, before I was going in for questioning with the FBI, my attorney said, ‘They’re calling you Gone Girl.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, what does that mean? Is that a bad thing?’” Huskins recalled during her “Call Her Daddy” podcast appearance on Wednesday, April 3. “I didn’t read the book; I didn’t see the movie. … I heard about it.”

After watching “one Nancy Grace clip,” Huskins made a decision. “I can’t f—king watch a thing,” she recalled to podcast host Alexandra Cooper.

Huskins was 29 years old and dating her now-husband, Aaron Quinn, when she was kidnapped in March 2015. The harrowing experience was explored in Netflix’s American Nightmare, which premiered in January, and Huskins shared more insight during Wednesday’s podcast interview.

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In the middle of the night, the couple were woken up by a bright light and male voice telling Huskins to tie up Quinn. Both Huskins and Quinn were administered sedatives before she was blindfolded and put in a car that was subsequently driven to a remote location.

American Nightmare’s Denise Huskins Didn’t Understand ‘Gone Girl’ Comparisons After Kidnapping
Courtesy of Netflix(2)

When Quinn called the police, he was immediately suspected of the crime. After days in the cabin with her captor, Huskins was released. (Quinn received emails demanding a $17,000 ransom, but Huskins returned home without payment.)

One year prior to the incident, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike starred in the 2014 thriller Gone Girl based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn. In the movie, Nick Dunne (Affleck) becomes the prime suspect when his wife, Amy (Pike), goes missing. The story, told through flashbacks immortalized in Amy’s diary entries, eventually reveals that she set up an entire scheme — framing Nick for the disappearance.

Due to the film’s popularity, Huskins was immediately compared to the character of Amy when her kidnapping garnered widespread attention.

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“I finally watched Gone Girl, probably nine months after the kidnapping. I couldn’t face it. When I watched it … it actually released a lot of that self-blame,” Huskins said during her “Call Her Daddy” interview. “I was like, it didn’t matter what I did. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It didn’t matter. They believed what they believed and whatever I did or said was only going to fit that box. I was able to, kind of, release myself from it.”

The truth was eventually revealed when a detective connected Huskins’ kidnapping to an attempted abduction in Dublin, California, after a man named Matthew Muller left his phone at the scene. Law enforcement tracked Muller to a cabin in the woods where strands of blonde hair — among other evidence — were discovered.

In 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Muller had pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and received a 40-year prison sentence. In 2022, he pleaded no contest to two counts of rape and pleaded guilty to three separate charges in Solano County Superior Court. Muller was sentenced to 31 years in prison, to be served concurrently with his prior conviction.

As for Huskins, she and Quinn married in 2018 and have since welcomed two children.

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