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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  February 3, 2019 2:00am-3:00am PST

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little dog who fought for her life -- and won. that's all for now. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> the details are so crazy, i couldn't make sense of it. >> a successful young couple ambushed, they said, in the dead of night. attacked. abducted. >> we're like, wow. where is she? >> i didn't have a clue what happened. >> but the real question, was their story even true? >> we were not able to substantiate what the couple was saying. >> could this be a hoax? who was really behind it all?
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>> real people don't do things like this. >> this should take a crazy turn. >> he said, i know i need to pay for what i did. hello and welcome to "dateline." denise and her boyfriend, aaron quinn, went to sleep one night, bliss if i unaware they would wake up to a living nightmare. an armed stranger in the bedroom. and he didn't appear to be alone. what happened next was so odd, it would leave detectives and the public scratching their heads. was this real life or fiction? an unexpected break in the case would steer authorities toward an unlikely suspect and the truth. here's josh mankiewicz with "twisted tale." >> i was asleep, in bed. it was about 5:00 in the morning.
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>> reporter: frightening doesn't begin to describe what she went through. >> reporter: next thing i knew, there was someone else on top of me. >> reporter: she was a losing player in someone's game of control. if you're wondering, there was no way to fight back. >> i must have been screaming. >> reporter: this woman doesn't want us to use her real name. we're calling her samantha. and she's sharing with us things she's told to very few veem. this was a man? >> man. >> reporter: bigger than you? >> felt very big and strong. i couldn't move. >> reporter: september 29th, 2009. the sun wasn't up yet. and in samantha's bedroom, a masked intruder was holding her down. she had no idea who the man was or what he was planning. >> i think just in shock. >> reporter: the details of what happened to samantha are not
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only frightening but deeply strange. she's come forward because she believes her long night of terror may shed light on a different case, in a different town, with victims she's never met. it's a bizarre mystery that riveted california's bay area. then, rippled across the country and around the world. march 24th, 2015, a young woman was missing. >> she stands at 5'7", 150 pounds. she has blonde hair and blue eyes. >> reporter: her abductors wanted money in exchange for her return. >> we're requesting the public's health help in locating her. >> reporter: it happened in the city of vallejo. >> i was struck with the fact that you don't see these cases too often. and this crime victim did not strike me as someone who would usually be targeted.
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>> reporter: the kidnap victim, denise huskins had been staying at her boyfriend's house. they were therapists at a nearby hospital. aaron is the one that reported denise missing. >> we're doing everything we can and then some to ensure her safe return. >> reporter: mr. thethere was a search for denise. her friend, ashley, saw the news. >> this is denise. i started texting everybody. >> reporter: including denise. >> i tried to text her. better than not doing anything. >> reporter: there was no reply. she texted another friend. >> i couldn't believe what i was reading. it didn't seem real. >> reporter: that was pretty much the reaction the vallejo cops had to the story denise's
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boyfriend was telling them. >> we have a lot of information to sift through. we don't have all of the facts in yet. >> reporter: the story aaron told the cops that night, eventually spelled out in an fbi affidavit, would seem preposterous, something invented by someone with too much imagination and too much free time. aaron said he and denise were asleep at his house, when at 3:00 a.m., he was awakened by a bright light and an electrical noise, that sounded like a stun gun. and then, a man's voice telling them to lie facedown on the bed. the man told denise to bind aaron's hands and feet. and his eyes were covered with swim goggles, which were blacked out. >> he was blindfolded and zip tied. >> reporter: he said the intruder demanded his banking information and put headphones on him that played calming
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music, along with instructions to use denise's phone to text her work and say she would be out for a couple of days. and to let his work know the same. aaron also claimed he was given a mixture of nyquil and valium to knock him out, and told to stay in one spot in his living room that was outlined in red duct tape and monitored by a web cam. then, he said, the intruders left with denise. his story sounded so implausible, police wondered if he made it up to hide something even more sinister. at first blush when a woman is missing and her husband or boyfriend says, oh, yeah, she was abducted, well, certainly the first thing i think, bamayb because of what i do for a living, is maybe the guy had something to do with this. >> is he a suspect? is he making it up? what's going on here? what's the real story?
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>> reporter: police treated aaron less like a victim and more like a murder suspect. they confiscated his cell phone and read him his rights. they were suspicious about why he waited 11 hours before calling 911. >> aaron quinn, it took him hours. it wasn't until that afternoon, that the vallejo police were able to talk to him after he came forward. >> reporter: aaron's mother told us police polygraphed him five times. he was put in jail clothing, given little food or water and held in a small interrogation room for hours. across the country, denise's friends didn't know any of this. but they knew enough to be worried. >> i mean, someone being kidnapped, to be honest, a lot of those stories don't end well. and you don't want to think about those things. but you think, maybe they're not going to be alive. >> reporter: then, about 33 hours after denise huskins disappeared, reporter lee was
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outside of aaron's home when his phone buzzed. it was an e-mail. >> what was chilling was the e-mail came with an audio file. >> my name is denise huskins. >> reporter: the woman on the recording said she was denise. this very strange tale was about to get much stranger. >> what had happened to denise? was she still alive? or was this all an elaborate hoax? coming up -- >> we don't know where denise huskins is. >> that scriptic recording. what kind of message was it? >> she sounded calm. not terrified. not distressed at all. >> not someone in fear for her life. >> as if she was talking to someone over coffee. >> we get a tip that police are holding a news conference. that's when the bombshell came down. >> when "dateline" continues. ws sensodyne rapid relief in my opinion is a game changer. it's going to let the dentist offer their patient
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airliner went down. >> earlier today, there was a plane crash in the alps. 150 people died. >> reporter: she shared obscure biographical details. >> my first concert with me bethany and her mom, blink 182. >> it's a proof of life audio, saying she is denise and she is the victim. >> reporter: and she's aware of events that happened that day. >> she is aware of events that happened to prove she was alive. >> reporter: it wasn't a murder case, but was it a kidnapping as aaron claimed? we found it odd that denise didn't sound at all frightened. >> she sounded calm. not terrified. not distressed at all. >> reporter: not someone in fear for her life. >> as if she was talking with someone over coffee. i shared it with my colleagues
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and it was wtf, what is this? >> reporter: the recording hit the web. and ashley heard it. >> it was reassuring that she made an audio that clearly dated that day. but also still scary because you have no idea if the person is safe, how they're being treated. >> reporter: and if denise didn't sound panicked, her friends say that made perfect sense. after all, the three of them had already lived through what should have been the most traumatic event of their lives. ashley, danica and denise, went to watch the boston marathon in 2013. they say it was denise who remained calm that day. >> we were all scared and sort of rocked by it. but i think of all of us, she was probably the best equipped to keep her cool. >> she was the one who kind of was my rock. she grabbed my hand.
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and she's like, let's go. but where was denise now? >> this was a bizarre case with a lot of twists. >> reporter: cheryl herd covered the story for kntv. >> day two, we don't know where denise huskins is. we are not sure what her boyfriend, aaron quinn, is telling police. all we know is they can't find her. >> reporter: but then, the story took another whiplash turn. about 45 hours after denise was reported missing, police made a dramatic announcement. >> approximately 10:30 this morning, denise huskins was located safely. >> reporter: it seemed over. denise's cousin told knbc how thrilled everybody was. >> you hear stories all the time. just happy to hear that she was alive and safe and home. >> reporter: but to police and reporters, all professional
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skeptics, this story hadn't smelled right from the start. and denise's sudden reappearance did nothing to change that. >> she's alive. she's well. and they found her. that was great. but there was still something funny going on because no one had the answers. >> reporter: for one thing, denise turned up in huntington beach, 400 south of vallejo and also her hometown. she was dropped off by her mom's house. >> she wasn't released out of state. she wasn't released in the desert. she wasn't released in the middle of california. where did she show up? right near her parents' house. that seemed too convenient. >> reporter: another thing, the ransom the kidnappers had demanded had never been paid. denise told the same story about the swim gaggoggles, the nyquil the electric shock.
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then, when vallejo police wanted to question her -- >> denise disappeared. she would not fly up to talk to the police. >> reporter: after she was released? >> after she was released. >> reporter: suspicion was building. denise nor aaron made a public statement. but they did hire separate toerp attorneys. >> everyone is thinking, why did they do that? >> reporter: not many answers. >> we get a tip that police are holding a news conference. so, i jump in the car, the photographer and i. we haul ass back to vallejo to be part of this news conference. >> let me know when you guys are ready. >> that's when the bombshell came down. coming up -- >> we were not able to substantiate anything he was saying. >> was this a prank? >> was there some chance that denise and her boyfriend would be prosecuted?
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>> it was a strong possibility. >> e-mails, photos, new clues are about to emerge from the shadows, when "dateline" continues. continues. ♪ and everywhere i go ♪ there's always something to remind me. ♪ ♪ of another place and time. ♪
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i didn't have a clue what happened. >> even denise huskins' friends had to admit, her sudden disappearance and reappearance, seemed almost unbelievable. >> the details of the story are so crazy, you know, i really
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couldn't make sense of it. >> reporter: neither could the vallejo police department. a day after denise came home, spokesman kenny park held a remarkable news conference. first, he spoke about denise's boyfriend, aaron quinn. >> we all know that the statement that mr. quinn provided was such an incredible story, we initially had a hard time believing it and, upon further investigation, we were not able to substantiate any of the things he was saying. >> reporter: then, about denise herself. >> miss huskins indicated she would be happy to meet with our police detectives and provide a full statement on what occurred. as of right now, we have not heard from miss huskins. >> reporter: and finally this. >> mr. quinn and huskins has plundered resources away from our community and instilling fear into our community members.
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if anything, it is mr. quinn and miss huskins that owes this community an apology. >> reporter: after a search and 54 hours of investigation, vallejo police had concluded that the whole kidnapping story was pohony. that all of this was one of the made-for-california dramas, not as much shakespearean as kardashian. police thought that denise and aaron were seeking publicity and telling an elaborate lie. left unanswered is why would anyone want to become famous for cooling the police. >> the stranger than fiction story involving a california couple. >> reporter: no ransom was paed paid. aaron said they took his bank information but no one tried to access his accounts. someone did try to call aaron's cell phone from a blocked number.
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police believe aaron had programmed another number to call his own cell while he was with investigators. was there some chance that denise and her boyfriend were going to be prosecuted? >> it was a strong possibility. >> reporter: denise's friends didn't know aaron. but they had every confidence denise was telling the truth. >> everyone that knew or knows her personally and cares about her, believed her. >> reporter: the day after police branded the kidnapping a hoax, denise finally did show up at vallejo p.d. to tell the cops they were wrong. she said not only had she been kidnapped, she had also been raped. that same day, reporter henry lee received another e-mail, a long message, soon followed by more, supporting denise's claim this was no hoax, from a person claiming to have been one of the kidnappers. >> they were very articulate, clearly written by someone who was extremely intelligent.
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>> reporter: ms. huskins was absolutely kidnapped. we did it. we will provide proof. the writer claimed to be a group, more than two and fewer than eight in number. >> they go into extreme length about a series of crimes they say they pulled, including car thefts, break-ins, you name it. >> reporter: some of us have a tech background and are very good at overcoming anti-theft measures, stealing late-model cars. according to the e-mail, the group decided to try kidnapping because we wanted something with a high payout that we only had to do once or a few times. >> what is going on? why are you apparently confessing? >> reporter: the writer admitted that the reality of the kidnapping was much more upsetting than expected. we fancied ourselves as sort of "ocean's eleven" gentlemen criminals.
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the horrifying reality of what we had become and what we were doing did not set in until being confronted directly with denise's suffering and humanity. >> at least one of the abductors seemed to, you know, sympathize with denise. >> reporter: and now, the e-mail said they were angry that denise was being accused of making the whole thing up. we will not stand by and see the life of a really good person ruined. attached to the e-mails were photos. one showed a water gun, spray painted to look more threatening, with a laser pointer and flashlight duct taped to it. and another showed a room where denise was supposedly held. was this visual proof of denise and aaron's story? or elaborate deception. you thought legit or more hoax?
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>> i thought it was part of a prank. >> reporter: the e-mails were so well-written, henry lee wondered if they were sent by an attorney. reporters started to refer to the case as the "gone girl" kidnapping, after the movie and book about a blonde that fakes her own disappearance. that reference infuriated denise's friends. >> that makes you mad. it was a fictional character created out of a good person. you stop being denise huskins. and you start being -- >> labeled as "gone girl." >> reporter: that wasn't denise at all, they said. but to the rest of the world, denise and aaron were portrayed as liars, schemers, maybe even criminals themselves. that is, until the next big twist. coming up -- >> he said, we have your daughter. >> another story as strange and
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eerie as denise and aaron's. >> terrifying. >> they were terrified. >> had the kidnapper struck again? when "dateline" continues. ne" c. at walgreens, we want you, to keep doing you... and we'll take care of medicare part d. by helping you save up to $5 on each prescription... so you can get back to doing the things you love. stop in and start saving on your medicare part d prescriptions today... walgreens. trusted since 1901. remember when we all used to go to the cafeteria and just chow down midday? -you mean, like, lunch? -come on. voted "most likely to help people save $668 when they switch." -at this school? -didn't you get caught in the laminating machine? -ha. [ sighs ] -"box, have a great summer. danielle." ooh. danielle, control yourself.
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here's your top stories. calls for ralph northam to resign over a racist picture in his yearbook. vladimir putin pulled russia out of a nuclear arms treaty in response to a similar move by the u.s. the trump administration withdr withdrew from the treaty and said russia had been violating it for years. back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline." the police and the public seem to have it all figured out. they believed denise huskins and
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boyfriend, aaron quinn, had made up their home invasion and kidnapping story for publicity. the media dubbed it the "gone girl" mystery, based on a woman who faked her own disappearance. but detectives were about to learn something that would shift the investigation. a similar attack to the one that denise and aaron were describing, too similar to ignore. here's josh mankiewicz with "tisted tale." >> this sounded like a tv movie. then, police announced it was really an elaborate hoax. denise huskins and aaron quinn, branded as liars or attention addi addicts, retreated from sight. >> thank you. >> reporter: that might have been the end of it, until a little over two months later. this story took another
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unbelievable turn. june 5th, 2015, 3:44 a.m. police were called to a house in dublin, california. an intruder was inside. >> husband possibility has a head injury. >> reporter: by the time police arrived, the man was gone. the woman told police that she and her husband woke up in the early morning hours to find a man standing at the foot of their bed, a flashlight shining in their faces. >> he told them, get facedown on your bed and don't look at me. >> reporter: terrifying. >> yes. they were terrifying. >> reporter: the dublin police department led the investigation. >> he said, we have your daughter and she's okay. >> reporter: the couple's 22-year-old daughter had been sleeping in the next room. >> he tells the parents that, i'm going to tie you up. the father jumps on him, says, you know, i'm not going to let
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you tie me up. something is going on with my daughter. a struggle ensues on the ground. >> reporter: his wife grabbed her cell phone and locked herself in the bathroom to call 911. >> the husband yells at her, go get the gun. this was smart on the father's part because they had no gun. he had to say anything to try to scare this guy away. >> reporter: the father continued to fight until finally the intruder fled. but in the struggle, his left some things behind. zip ties, for one. and what turned out to be the key to the case, a cell phone, which led the dublin detectives to a home near sacramento. they called the family there and the woman there said the phone belonged to her adult son, a man named matthew muller. >> he told me he lost it this morning. where is he? we'd like to give it to him. he's on the way to south lake
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tah tahoe, to our cabin. >> reporter: they put in a call to the local sheriff if there had been trouble at the cabin. they hadn't. but a stolen car had just been found right near it. and in the car was a driver's license for 38-year-old matthew muller. >> okay. you kind of made my day now. now, we have some more information to go on. >> reporter: with a search warrant and arrest warrant, the dublin cops went to find matthew muller. the neighbors watched it happen. >> i'm peeking out my window, trying to get an idea of what's happening. more cars are coming. my whole front area is filled with dark sedans, like something out of the movies. >> reporter: the neighbors were surprised. but maybe matthew muller was not. >> when we broke down the front door, it didn't open all the way because it was barricaded with chairs and household items.
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upon entry, i could hear my detectives screaming, get on the ground, get on the ground. and your heart rate jumps up. okay, he's there. >> reporter: this is muller, just after he was arrested. he did not put up a fight. in the house, detectives found a room with cardboard on the windows, blocking out the light. they searched that stolen car and found a few more items of interest. >> one was a beebe gun. one was a super soaker that was painted black with a flashlight taped to it. >> if you were in the dark and all you saw was the shape and the bulkness of it, absolutely. >> reporter: there were swim goggles with tape on the lenses. and they trace the car -- >> that comes back stolen out of vallejo. >> reporter: the cops called vallejo p.d. and started
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comparing notes. >> we are showing them pictures and they show us pictures sent to them. >> reporter: those are the photos e-mailed to henry lee, from the anonymous address. shots of spray-painted water pistols and a room with cardboard on the windows. >> that's when the light clicked on. and we went, uh-oh. here we go. coming up, ivy league, former marine, respected attorney. >> i would much more have suspected matt to be sitting behind the desk in some elected capacity. >> reporter: who was this guy? when "dateline" continues. -morning. -morning. -what do we got? -keep an eye on that branch. might get windy. have a good shift. fire pit. last use -- 0600. i'd stay close. morning. ♪ get ready to switch. protected by flo. should say, "protected by alan and jamie." -right? -should it?
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when the strange tale of denise huskins and aaron quinn first made headlines -- >> another bizarre twist in a kidnapping case we've been following out of california. >> reporter: -- police detectives campos and alvarez, found it just as puzzling as everyone else did. there's a lot of reasons to sort of thing the vallejo story was a very strange story. >> it was. >> it does sound like it could be fably kafabricated. >> reporter: now, they found themselves working a home invasion that seemed to link the man they arrested, matthew muller, to the seemed kidnapping of denise huskins. not just the toy guns painted to
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look rule. or the room in the arrest that matched the photo sent to henry lee. there was more. significant clues pointing to a real kidnapping that vallejo cops seemed to ignore at the start. window screens at aaron's house were slit. and the missed calls made to aaron quinn's cell phone while he was being interrogated that first night. calls the vallejo cops suspected aaron had faked. they were placed from this intersection near muller's cabin in tahoe, where dublin police found that stolen car. when law enforcement hacked into the navigation history, they found this address in huntington beach, the exact spot where denise said she had been left by her kidnapper. as they continued to investigate, detectives learned their suspect was just as unusual as the crimes he was implicated in. maybe more so.
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>> i haven't dealt with somebody like him, you know. it's the kind of stuff you see in movies. >> reporter: a california native, muller served in the u.s. marine corps where he was a trumpet player. he then attended pomona college. >> i would much more have suspected matt to be sitting behind the desk in some elected capacity as opposed to sitting in a jail cell right now. >> reporter: muller married in 2004 and graduated from pomona summa cum laude a year later. the next stop was harvard law school. he graduated in 2006, and stayed on as a teaching fellow. andrea was a student of muller's at harvard's immigration and refugee clinic. >> matt at harvard, was incredibly intelligent, hard-working and someone who was dedicated to the work we were doing.
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>> reporter: after harvard, muller moved back to california and practiced immigration law in san francisco. but soon, muller's life seemed to go off the rails. in 2013, he lost his privileges to practice law and was eventually disbarred. he got divorced, stopped paying rent. in 2014, he filed for bankruptcy. it's not clear what went wrong. his defense lawyer says muller suffers from bipolar disorder. he is unimposing, nearly forgettable, certainly not someone to fear. >> it doesn't really fit the profile of your typical guy who is doing home invasions. >> if you're looking at typical home invasions, it doesn't. but when you're looking at the type of crimes that he's committing, it does more fit the profile. >> it seems to be done for the thrill of the crime. the thrill of the game. >> reporter: glen is a forensic psychology. he has not met matthew muller.
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but he has read the e-mails that were sent to reporter, henry lee. e-mails that lee suspected at the time were written by a lawyer. a lawyer police now believe was matthew muller. >> what emerges from the e-mails is a complex picture of someone who needs attention, who needs to be perceived a certain way. >> reporter: for example, the way the writer of the e-mails was outraged when denise was accused of a hoax. when he says, how dare you not believe ms. huskins that she was kidnapped, he is saying, how dare you not believe i pulled this crime off. >> you can't see my handyiwork because the police are failing miserably. and they need to recognize how flawed they are. >> reporter: he's a master criminal. >> he's a master criminal. and he is running circles around everyone else. >> reporter: maybe he was. remember, from the beginning,
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vallejo police apparently just couldn't believe the elaborate tales of the kidnapping. when aaron told them he took so long to call 911 because he was drugged and confined to a square of red tape and monitored by a web cam, they didn't buy it. and when denise wouldn't get on that plane to talk to vallejo p.d., they thought it was because she had something to hide. she said she was afraid the cops would treat her like her boyfriend, aaron, like a suspect. now, everything was about to change. three months after vallejo police accused denise and aaron of concocting a hoax, matthew muller was the suspect in denise's very real kidnapping. >> i was glad, you know. i never doubted there was someone who kidnapped her. >> reporter: neither did the woman we're calling samantha. to her, denise's story was very
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real. coming up -- >> my hands were handcuffed behind my back. my feet were zip tied. >> could matthew muller be behind this crime, too? we're about to ask him. >> he kind of opened his eyes really wide. he couldn't believe i was bringing this up. >> when "dateline" continues. ws emerge everyday with emergen-c. packed with b vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants, plus more vitamin c than 10 oranges. why not feel this good every day? emerge and see. at walgreens, we know how strong you are, ♪ but we also know how tough it is to keep up with your medication. that's why we're introducing a new and easy way... refill, prepay and skip the line... ...or have your prescriptions delivered. so you never miss a day. walgreens. trusted since 1901.
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welcome back. matth matthew muller, the harvard he had -- educated man, what he told us was disturbing. here with the conclusion of "twisted tale" is josh makowitz. mountain view, california, the heart of silicon valley, the headquarters of google. and in september 2009, the scene of a strange and terrifying crime. >> i was asleep in bed, and the next thing i knew, there was someone laying on top of me. their hand was over my mouth. >> the woman we're calling samantha hadn't heard the names denise huskins or matthew miller
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until we contacted her. but as you'll see, what happened to her will seem slightly familiar. >> my hands were tied behind my back, my feet were zip tied. then he put swim goggles on that were blacked out. i couldn't see. >> zip ties. blacked out swim goggles. her captor claimed he was part of a group, and the point, he says, was money. >> my social security number, mother's maiden name -- >> account numbers. >> -- account numbers, my bank account number, my pin. >> as with denise and erin, he made sure no intruders would be coming any time soon. >> he sent an e-mail to my boss saying i was sick and i couldn't come in that day. you think, man, this is becoming more hopeless.
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>> in her case she was sedated. it turned out it was nyquil. she was completely under his control. >> he said i have bad news for you. now i'm going to have to rape you. >> blindfolded, she pleaded with her captor not to do it. >> he kind of muttered, and then said, i can't do this. >> the man who had terrorized her for hours suddenly was remorseful. >> he said, i'm sorry about this. i've been through this, too. >> he offered some home security advice. >> he advised me to get a dog to protect myself in the future. >> so he's advising you how to
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prevent this in the future. >> yeah. i know it's unbelievable. >> yeah, it is. >> the man never let her see his face. when she called police, it seemed unbelievable even to hoskins. >> did the police believe you? >> i don't think so. they thought i had called 911 after a bad dream. >> a similar case in mere by palo alto. a man broke into a house and restrained the woman living here with zip ties and swim goggles. then he threatened to rape her. was it the same man? was it muller? police investigating samantha's assault aren't sure. but lieutenant zach perin with the palo alto police believe it's the same man in both cases.
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muller had never been charged in either case. we wanted to hear from muller ourselves. his attorney did not want him to speak to anyone. however, muller wanted to see a producer. we spent 30 minutes talking to muller through glass on the phone. no recording, no note-taking. >> what was it like? >> we were joking, he was telling about the books he was reading. >> what happens if he is found guilty of the crimes? >> he wouldn't say he was guilty of anything. >> we said, we found a woman who matched denise huskins and
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samantha's case. >> he denied knowing anything about samantha's case or the one in palo alto. then she asked about denise huskins. >> he looked at me and said, can you imagine being awakened in the middle of the night, taken from your home, sexually assaulted, you're brave and then it's used against you by police? there were tears in his eyes. >> putting on a show? >> he might have been putting on a show. he's very, very smart. >> then he was eager to talk about his own troubles. >> he wanted to be very clear that the last six years of his life had been spent in depression, he had a few suicide attempts. then he said he's in jail now and he's happy to be there because it's a safe place for him, safe place for the
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kmuchblt. >> -- community. >> he said he had always wanted to do good for others. >> he told me that he wanted to be the guy that helped people. >> so what went wrong? >> i asked him, how do you feel now sitting here because you've now done the opposite, you've hurt people. and he just kind of stared at me for a minute and was silent, and then he said, i don't even know where to begin with that. he kind of put his head down and started to cry, and he said, i'm so sorry. >> exactly what he was sorry for, he didn't say. but muller did say he thought he was exactly where he belonged. >> he had said the facts are pretty clear. i think i'll spend a few decades in jail and i'm fine with that. >> about a year after he spoke with "dateline," muller pleaded guilty in federal court to kidnapping denise hoskins. he was sentenced to 40 years in prison and he also pleaded no contest in the home invasion. in 2018, muller faced new state
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charges of kidnapping for ransom, rape, burglary and false imprisonment. he now claims he's not guilty. there is plenty we still don't know. for example, denise and erin are convinced there was more than one kidnapper. >> do you have reason to believe there were other people out there? >> i don't, no. he used the word "we." i believe it was to instill more fear to the victims. >> another unknown, how the victims were chosen. denise may not have been the target of the kidnapping. the e-mail sent to lee claimed to be from her ex-fiance. denise and erin will live forever with the scars of their ordeal. home invasion, kidnapping and then public humiliation. >> they were innocent of their
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alleged crimes, yet they were painted to the world as having been involved in a terrible hoax. >> vallejo pd, so eager to talk in the first few days, clammed up. they have so far not made a public statement to correct the impression of these two as liars. denise sued the city of vallejo, and in 2015, they settled that case for $2 million. but nobody at the pd has claimed why the case went so wrong. the answer is always, no comment. he said to you at the end, i'm sorry this is going to mess you up. >> yes, he did. >> he was right about that, wasn't he? >> yeah, it definitely messed me up for quite a while. >> sometimes the true story is often a lie. >> why did you want to talk to
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us? >> if i can contribute in any way and make sure this is taken seriously and basically say this is not a hoax. i lived firsthand through this and i know for a fact that it's true. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thanks for watching. good morning. i'm phillip mena, msnbc headquarters in new york. msnbc is live. first came the revision, then the retraction. virginia's governor refusing to step down because of a yearbook photo and then admitting to memories of his past. >> this was a yearbook photo with my face and my name. it was not


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