Matthew Muller
Dublin Police Department/AP
March 16, 2017 06:57 PM

“Gone Girl” kidnapper Matthew Muller — a former Marine and a Harvard-educated lawyer who was later disbarred — will spend 40 years in prison for the 2015 abduction of a woman that was revealed only after police publicly dismissed her story, PEOPLE confirms.

Muller, 39, was sentenced Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California. The hearing closes out a series of bizarre twists that began when the victim’s boyfriend reported her missing almost two years ago.

In September, Muller pleaded guilty to a kidnapping charge stemming from the March 23, 2015, abduction of Denise Huskins from her home in Vallejo, California.

Huskins’ case became erroneously known as the “Gone Girl” kidnapping, in reference to the popular book and movie about a deceitful disappearance, after investigators called her story a hoax.

Police eventually apologized — though Huskins, 31, brought a lawsuit against them last year — and Muller was arrested in June 2015.

During the sentencing, Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, spoke about their terrifying ordeal.

“I knew this was probably it for me,” she said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “My life was coming to an end and I made peace with that.”

“Once released, I couldn’t fathom the pain that was to come,” she continued. “I felt like a little girl, scared, wanting to hear the voices of my parents saying, ‘It’s okay.’ ”

Quinn told Muller that he “strategically destroyed our lives.”

“I cannot and will not ever be the same,” he said. “My family will not ever be the same.”

Muller addressed the court next.

“There’s nothing I can say,” he said, according to the Chronicle. “I’m sick with shame that my actions have brought such devastation. I hope my imprisonment can bring closure to Aaron and Denise, and I’m prepared for any sentence the court imposes.”

Ahead of his hearing Thursday, federal prosecutors sought to keep Muller in prison “until he is old and weak,” according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

In his sentencing recommendation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Segal asked the judge impose a term of 40 years in prison — a request that was granted.

Muller’s attorney, however, asked the judge to sentence his client to 30 years in prison and highlighted Muller’s mental state, according to the Chronicle.

Muller, Thomas Johnson wrote, suffers from anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder and “would have never committed this crime had he been properly medicated.”

“Thirty years is exactly where Mr. Muller’s sentence should end up,” Johnson wrote, according to the Chronicle. “It means Mr. Muller is not released until he is over 60 years old.”

Johnson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

But Segal alleged that Muller was a serial predator — with Huskins’ abduction among several crimes — and there was no evidence to show that “psychological treatment could ever make him less dangerous.”

From left: Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn in July 2015.
Mike Jory/The Times-Herald/AP

In March 2015, Huskins’ boyfriend Aaron Quinn told police that kidnappers had broken into the couple’s Vallejo home and taken Huskins, demanding $8,500 in ransom.

In fact, Segal wrote in his sentencing recommendation, Muller had “conducted reconnaissance” on Huskins and Quinn and “came prepared to use artifice to terrorize” them.

Muller acted alone, but he brought tools in order to appear as though he was with a group, according to Segal.

On the night of the kidnapping, Muller was carrying a water pistol painted black and duct-taped to a flashlight and laser pointer and headphones for the couple, with a pre-recorded message “in which the ‘group’ threatened to punish noncompliance with electric shock or facial laceration,” Segal wrote.

Muller was wearing a military-style vest which had a wireless speaker attached to its mesh pockets, according to Segal. He wrote that the speaker was attached to Muller’s computer and played sounds of “a group of people urgently whispering to each other during the kidnapping.”

Miller also brought with him a blow-up mannequin dressed in military-style fatigues, Segal wrote. The mannequin was connected to large bendable wires so it would stand upright.

“Muller is extremely dangerous,” Segal wrote in his recommendation, describing Muller’s abduction of Huskins as “depraved and egregious.”

“Just punishment requires that Muller suffer a severe sentence that accounts for the entirety of his culpable conduct,” Segal wrote.

The families of Huskins and Quinn also submitted letters to the judge, ahead of Muller’s sentencing, KCRA reports.

“Matthew Muller is a very dangerous character. He should never be given the freedom to commit these acts again,” Huskins’ father wrote, according to the station. “I’m pleading with you to show no mercy on this criminal and please sentence him to the maximum sentence allowed by law.”

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