A Huntington Beach woman whose strange saga about being kidnapped for an $8,500 ransom that police called a hoax was "absolutely, unequivocally" a victim of kidnapping, her lawyer said Thursday.
Attorney Doug Rappaport said he spent the day with his client Denise Huskins at the Vallejo Police Department with the hope of clearing Huskins' name.
He called it a serious assault, emotionally and physically and that she does not know her captors. He said Vallejo police "threw her under the bus." He wouldn't say how she ended up in Huntington Beach.
"She is absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent, positively a victim," he said. "This is no hoax. This is no laughing matter. She's emotionally and physically broken. And the fact that she's been designated as a suspect only hurts her further."
Alleged Kidnap Victim Hits Back at Cops' Hoax Claims
Rappaport hopes Vallejo police realize they jumped the gun when they claimed his client had orchestrated a hoax.
"When they thought that egg was going to end up on someone's face, they threw it on her," he said. "There was no egg here whatsoever, this is a legitimate crime."
Police did not comment on the attorney's statements Thursday, but said Wednesday night that the none of the claims have been substantiated.
This afternoon an attorney for Huskins' boyfriend, Aaron Quinn blasted back at police as well.
"There is a room full of evidence that they have," said attorney Dan Russo.
Huskins, originally from Huntington Beach, was reportedly abducted Monday morning from her boyfriend's Vallejo home, police said.
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Huskins' boyfriend claims an intruder broke into his Mare Island home early Monday morning and took Huskins by force while demanding a ransom. But her boyfriend waited 11 hours to report it to police.
Russo said he had good reason: He was bound and drugged at the time.
Quinn was even prepared to pay the ransom by the kidnappers' deadline of noon Wednesday, but Huskins was reported safe by then, the attorney said.
"(Quinn) has basically died and gone to hell. He is in terrible shape," Russo said. "He is exhausted both mentally and physically."
Russo added investigators tested Quinn's blood to determine if he was drugged but haven't revealed the results yet. He declined to release other details about how the alleged kidnapping unfolded, saying he didn't want to impede the investigation.
"We are as at sea as most of you as to what happened," the attorney said. But he noted Quinn "has no responsibility for what's going on."
Police could not immediately be reached for comment on his statements.
Huskins, 29, turned up Wednesday in Huntington Beach, about 400 miles from Vallejo. Hours later, police revealed they found no proof of a kidnapping and believed it was a hoax.
After the investigation turned to the couple, police said they were unable to contact Huskins or her family members and did not know where she was. They also said she hired an attorney.
Russo said Thursday that police questioned Quinn for 17 hours. He added his client has not been in contact with Huskins and is staying with family.
Jeff Kane, Huskins' uncle, told The Associated Press he was infuriated by the Vallejo Police Department's announcement that his niece's abduction was a hoax. Kane, of Huntington Beach, said police interviewed Huskins and her family for hours.
"They said, 'If you don't start telling the truth, we're going to offer you or your boyfriend the chance to tell the truth, and whoever goes first will get leniency,'" Kane said.
"I believe when the truth comes out, people are going to look at each other and say, 'That is the most horrific story I've ever heard. I can't imagine what she's gone through.'"
The alleged kidnapping occurred in the pre-dawn hours Monday, but Quinn didn't report it until around 2 p.m. That delay is part of what aroused suspicions, Vallejo police Lt. Kenny Park said.
"Upon further investigation, we couldn't substantiate any of the things he was saying," Park said Wednesday.
Park said Quinn was "free on his own" for now. He wouldn't say whether anyone else was involved in the alleged hoax.
Huskins is a physical therapist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vallejo. A Kaiser official declined to comment on her.
In 2005, Huskins pleaded guilty in Orange County to misdemeanor driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit. Her sentence included three years' probation and a first offenders' alcohol program, online court records show.
She obtained a physical therapist's license in Massachusetts after studying at Long Island University in Brooklyn, according state online records. The license expired in 2014.
No complaints were lodged against her, said Jayda Leder-Luis, a licensing division spokeswoman.
In California, Huskins was licensed as a physical therapist in October 2013, according to the state's physical therapy board.
Quinn also is a physical therapist licensed in California.
Their next-door neighbor Dana Vandeweg said Quinn has lived there for a few years and has been kind and thoughtful. He adopted a stray cat and alerted neighbors ahead of the one or two quiet parties he hosted annually.
"We all are having a hard time believing he'd have anything to do with a thing like this," Vandeweg said. "It was just, 'This can't be!' He's just a nice guy."
Riya Bhattacharjee, Kristofer Noceda and The Associated Press contributed to this report.