From the beginning, the story seemed almost too fantastical to be true. And according to police in Vallejo, Calif., it was.
Police first received reports that Denise Huskins had gone missing when her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, called police about 2 p.m. Monday to report a crime. Huskins had been forcibly taken from his San Francisco Bay Area home in the early hours of Monday, he told them. And her kidnappers were holding her for ransom.
“He was essentially saying that the female, Ms. Huskins, was forcibly taken against her will from the residence,” Vallejo Police Lt. Ken Park said, according to ABC7.
More than 75 people scoured the area for signs of Huskins. Dive teams, dogs and sonar equipment searched for hints of any objects that could be the missing woman in the water.
They found nothing.
Huskins’s father tried to make sense of the unthinkable, but seemed to have more questions than answers.
Why did Quinn not report her missing until many hours after he said the abduction happened?
“If he was tied up . . . maybe something like that was happening, I don’t know. Maybe he was tied up,” Mike Huskins told ABC7.
In truth, Huskins told KCRA, he didn’t know his daughter’s boyfriend well. The couple had met a few months ago while working as physical therapists at a hospital in Vallejo, Mike Huskins said.
Meanwhile, police remained circumspect — saying only that the case was being treated as a kidnap for ransom, but declining to release details of the amount being demanded or their growing doubts about Quinn’s story.
That was until Wednesday evening, when they announced that Huskins had been found about 400 miles from where she was last seen, safe and apparently unharmed.
According to police, the episode — including the claim of an $8,500 ransom — was a hoax. Their primary suspects are Denise Huskins and Quinn.
“It was such an incredible story, we initially had a hard time believing it,” Park said, according to the Associated Press. “Upon further investigation, we couldn’t substantiate any of the things [Quinn] was saying.”
In a statement, Park called it an “orchestrated event,” not a kidnapping.
Two days after going missing, Denise Huskins turned up Wednesday morning outside her father’s home in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“She wasn’t crying at all. She just said, ‘Daddy, I’m okay,’ ” Mike Huskins told the Associated Press. “I feel very relieved. Can you imagine? You can’t unless you’ve experienced it.”
A lawyer for Quinn denied to the AP that the alleged abduction was a hoax. Dan Russo, his attorney, said that Quinn was tied up and forced to “drink something” when at least two kidnappers broke into his home, preventing him from calling the police until later.
The FBI and Vallejo police, eager to speak with Denise Huskins, dispatched a jet to Huntington Beach to bring her back to Northern California. But she didn’t show up, and according to police, they no longer know where she is.
Her family has retained a lawyer, according to CNN. And Quinn is staying mum.
“Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins have plundered valuable resources away from our community, and have taken focus away from the true victims of our community while instilling fear amongst our community members,” Park said, according to CBS Sacramento. “So if anything, it’s Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins that owe this community an apology.”
Federal investigators are looking into the couple’s financial situation, according to News 10. And Park said the two could potentially face criminal charges.