Matthew Muller, a 38-year-old Harvard-educated former attorney, was arrested Monday

By Christine Pelisek
Updated July 14, 2015 10:10 PM
Credit: Dublin PD/AP

Court papers in the bizarre kidnapping case of 29-year-old Denise Huskins reveal that the alleged kidnappers compared themselves to the heist film Ocean’s Eleven.

“We are young adults, fairly recent college graduates, and up until now this was a bit like a game or movie adventure,” according to a federal arrest warrant obtained by PEOPLE. “We fancied ourselves a sort of Ocean’s Eleven, gentleman criminals who only took stuff that was insured from people who could afford it.”

According to the court documents, the alleged kidnappers decided to email the San Francisco Chronicle because they were upset that the Vallejo Police Department believed the kidnapping was a hoax.

“Ms. Victim F was absolutely kidnapped,” they wrote. “We did it … We would rather take the chance of revealing the truth than live in a world where someone like Victim F is victimized again.”

Last March, Huskins told Vallejo, California, police she had been held at gunpoint, drugged and kidnapped by a group of men from her boyfriend’s home in Mare Island and released after two days near her mother’s home in Huntington Beach.

Her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, was forced into a closet and made to listen to a prerecorded message instructing him about how to handle the kidnapping demands. On the recording, the kidnappers described themselves as a “professional group there to collect financial debts,” according to the court documents.

Quinn told police that he was ordered to pay the kidnappers two payments of $8,500 and if asked about the withdrawals, he was to explain the money was to purchase a boat.

However, the case stalled because the Vallejo Police Department didn’t believe the couple’s tale of kidnapping and labeled the case a hoax.

The case took a bizarre turn on Monday when the FBI arrested Matthew Muller, a 38-year-old Harvard-educated former attorney. He was picked up June 8 after police announced he was a suspect in a similar home invasion attack in Dublin, California.

Muller became the FBI’s primary suspect in the Huskins abduction after they discovered these items in a Mustang parked at his South Lake Tahoe home: Quinn’s computer, water goggles covered with tape and a long blond strand of hair attached, a pair of two-way radios and a water pistol painted black.

The alleged kidnappers referred to themselves as “professional thieves though we have not been doing it that long and don’t identify ourselves as such. ”

“We are more than 2 and fewer than 8 in number,” they wrote. “All but one of us holds at least bachelor degrees, including from your alma mater. ”

The alleged kidnappers also bragged about their knowledge of tech and “overcoming electronic anti-theft measures, stealing late model cars and re-configuring systems as necessary to make the vehicle salable to a foreign market.”

At one point, the group decided they weren’t making enough money stealing cars so they decided to get into the kidnapping business. “The operation was meant to be a test of methods that would be used later on a higher net worth target, in an environment that was familiar to us and somewhat controlled,” according to the court documents.

However, the group wrote, the Huskins operation “went terribly wrong.”

“We are criminals I suppose, but we have consciences and seeing the impact of our actions on someone deeply affected us and caused us to reconsider our lives,” it reads.

Included in the diatribe was the claim they didn’t use a weapon during the abduction but an “amateurishly spray painted water pistol with a laser pointer and flashlight duck taped.”

The alleged kidnappers gave Vallejo police 24 hours to issue an apology to the victim.

“You have no good reason to continue allowing the community to believe they are hoaxers,” it read. “This operation was not about money. We were not doing so well for ourselves that $8,500 was chump change, but it was training we were after. We needed a live fire exercise before taking on a hard target, to learn how people react and iron out all of the wrinkles … For what it’s worth, what could have ended up as a prolific and dangerous criminal group has disbanded. And you have Victim F to thank for it.”

The FBI caught a break in early June when a Dublin couple reported a similar attack to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. The couple told police they were awakened in the middle of the night by a white male wearing a dark-colored security guard outfit and who was shining a flashlight in their faces. While the wife ran into the bathroom, locked the door, and called 911, the husband was able to fight the intruder, but he escaped. Once police arrived, they discovered the culprit left his cell phone on top of a cabinet in the second floor hallway along with zip ties, duct tape, and a fabric glove.

Once in custody, Muller told detectives he served as a marine from 1995 to 1999, attended Harvard University from 2003 to 2006 and taught at Harvard from 2006 to 2009. Muller told detectives he suffered from “Gulf War Illness,” and in 2008 was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

His lawyer, Tom Johnson, has not returned a call for comment. Nor have the attorneys for Denise Huskins, Aaron Quinn, or the Vallejo Police Department.

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