Kidnap victim Denise Huskins, once accused of hoax, fends off social media attack

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An undated photo released by the Vallejo Police Department shows Denise Huskins. (File photo courtesy of the Vallejo Police Department)

She was kidnapped, beaten, stuffed in the trunk of a car and called a liar by police before she was vindicated.

Now, Denise Huskins is describing in vivid detail how she’s still being brutalized on social media.

On New Year’s Eve, Huskins, 31, who was raised in Huntington Beach, received the following Facebook message (two of the lines of the message have been deleted):

“Are you that horrible lying woman who faked her own kidnapping??? Oh wow you are such a horrible person. You are going to hell for the (expletive) u have done. I’d like to slap u a few times. I’d like to have my wife beat u up bad too … and just so u know, ur not as pretty as u think. I’d put u at being a 5 outta 10. (Sentence deleted) You are an ignorant slut and a filthy liar and I’m glad ur going to hell. (Sentence deleted)”

The message was sent from the Facebook profile of a man from Peoria, Ill. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Huskins, who has been reluctant to talk to the media (she did not answer a request to be interviewed Wednesday), posted a response to the message on Facebook:

“I don’t post this for pity, I post this to increase awareness,” Huskins wrote. “Unfortunately this is just one example of countless messages like this that I have received. And like the ones before this, unfortunately this guy won. After reading this I went into one of my many PTSD episodes of terror.”

The Facebook message exchange is the latest step in an odd saga of violence and media manipulation.

On March 23, 2015, Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn were awakened by intruders in their Vallejo home. Huskins was kidnapped and a ransom demand for $8,500 was made.

Over the next two days, Huskins was stuffed in the trunk of a car and dropped off near her father’s home in Huntington Beach.

But Vallejo police quickly declared the case a hoax. Some in the media began calling Huskins the “Gone Girl,” a reference to the book and movie about a woman who (spoiler alert) fakes her own kidnapping.

For months, the world considered Huskins and Quinn criminals. But the case took a bizarre twist in July, when police arrested Matthew Muller, 39, an attorney with a degree from Harvard. Turns out he did kidnap Huskins and drug Quinn, as she’d claimed.

In September of 2016, Muller pleaded guilty to the kidnapping. He is scheduled to be sentenced early this year and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In a federal lawsuit against the Vallejo police, Huskins and Quinn said she was raped twice, but no rape charges were filed against Muller.

Huskins described her reaction to reading the Facebook post.

“My jaw and back are sore from the deep powerful shaking and reflexive tension that my whole body goes into,” she wrote. “My eyes are sore and red from uncontrollable tears. I am thoroughly exhausted, every inch of my body is tired from the fit of terror it was battling. This was his goal, and I couldn’t fight it. Congratulations, person I have never met, never heard of who hates me so much that he went out of his way to message me this disgusting, demeaning, dehumanizing outrage. I am still disoriented and not sure if I am even making sense. I have to take medication to calm me down.”

Huskins wrote that she is concerned about the meanness on social media.

“I share this because I want people to know how powerful your words are,” Huskins wrote. “Especially in the political times we are in, the divides we face in our country. Let’s not meet each other with hate and anger. It truly hurts. It has profound impact on each other’s lives, their feelings of safety and self worth.”

Contact the writer: [email protected]

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