Vallejo police address kidnapping they'd called a hoax

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- The attorney for a Harvard-educated lawyer accused of drugging and kidnapping a Vallejo woman in March has revealed new information about the mental health issues his client faces. Meanwhile, we now know what evidence federal agents seized in a storage unit belonging to 38-year-old Matthew Muller from Orangevale, Calif. And Vallejo police are answering questions about why they originally called this case a hoax.

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Captain John Whitney with the Vallejo Police Department says the kidnapping was called a hoax based on evidence investigators had at the time. As a result, the Vallejo Police Department standing by statements made publicly in March and is not issuing an apology.

Woodrow: "Was the Vallejo Police Department too quick to call it a hoax?"
Whitney: "I don't think so based on some of the evidence that we had at the time."

The police captain would not say what that evidence entails.

"I'd be revealing details of the investigation if I elaborated on that," he said.

With the FBI's sworn affidavit now unsealed and suspect Matthew Muller arrested, there's vindication for Denise Huskins and boyfriend Aaron Quinn. It's a move that caught Vallejo City Manager Daniel Keen off guard.

"Well, I think we were all surprised that that transpired," he said.

The affidavit reveals a mountain of evidence including items seized from Muller's storage unit in Vallejo. Investigators say they found white sheets, duct tape, four channel wireless video cameras, plyers and drones.

Quinn reported that kidnappers broke into the couple's home on March 23, abducted Huskins and demanded $8,500. His lawyers have said he awoke to a bright light in his face, and two kidnappers bound and drugged him.

Huskins turned up safe two days later at her parents' home in Huntington Beach. The 29-year-old says she was tied up, held for ransom, and sexually assaulted before she was let go. She showed up hours before the ransom was due.

Attorneys for victims spoke on Good Morning America on Tuesday. They say their clients are slowly trying to get their life back.

"She feels a tremendous sense of relief," said Huskins' attorney Douglas Rappaport. "But it doesn't change fact that she can't feel safe in her own home, that she's lost her dignity, that she's been publicly shamed, and now she needs to go through court process as a victim of a serious crime."

And now, despite the victims' attorneys calling for one, there's no apology from Vallejo police.

"I think it's important that we wait before we look at ourselves and figure out exactly what the final outcome is," Whitney said.

On Tuesday, Muller's attorney Thomas Johnson visited him in jail.

"He's in a difficult place, I can just say that," he said. "We'll be looking at Mr. Muller's entire life in his defense."

One he says includes mental illness.

Muller told authorities he's a former U.S. Marine suffering from PTSD. Johnson says the 38-year-old's mental history will be brought up in court.

"It is true what they have contained in the complaint that he suffers from a bipolar disorder," Johnson said. "Certainly he has history of mental illness and that certainly will be a component of our defense here in Sacramento."

A closer look at Muller's background shows he joined the Marines as a teenager and served four years until 1999. He attended Harvard Law School and graduated in 2012.

He worked as an immigration attorney in San Francisco until his license was suspended in January for alleged misconduct, including lying to a client and taking their money. He's scheduled to be disbarred next Sunday.

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The city says it will wait for the investigation's conclusion before reviewing the police department.

Attorneys for the victims say they are not sure whether their clients will file a civil lawsuit.

Muller is currently being held in the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. He faces a slew of felony charges, including kidnapping, burglary, and attempted robbery for two cases he's now tied to in Vallejo and Dublin.

Authorities are now trying to determine if he's behind two home invasions in Palo Alto and Mountain View six years ago.

In a few weeks, he'll be transferred to federal authorities in Sacramento. He's expected to be in court on August 27.

Click here for full coverage on the Vallejo "Gone Girl" kidnapping.

ABC7 News reporter Janet O and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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