The reported kidnapping of a Vallejo, California, woman for ransom this week was nothing but a hoax, police said.
Vallejo police Lt. Kenny Park went as far as to call it a “wild goose chase” that wasted department resources.
Denise Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn, who reported the kidnapping Monday, are no longer cooperating with police, Park said.
Huskins was found safe on Wednesday, more than 400 miles away in Huntington Beach.
Officers from the Huntington Beach Police Department talked with Huskins, 29, at her father’s apartment complex, department spokeswoman Jennifer Marlatt told reporters.
The case has authorities scratching their heads.
Huskins initially indicated she would be happy to talk with Vallejo police and provide details of what happened, according to Park.
Anxious to talk with her, Vallejo police and the FBI sent a jet to Huntington Beach to fly her back to the Bay Area.
When it was time to go, Huskins was a no show.
“As of right now, we have not heard from Miss Huskins and we are no longer in contact with any of the family members,” Park said late Wednesday. The family has retained an attorney.
Like Huskins, Quinn isn’t talking.
Charges are possible in the case, Park said, but those will be decided by the district attorney once the investigation is complete.
The quickly changing developments left authorities frustrated.
Quinn called on Monday afternoon to report that his girlfriend had been kidnapped several hours earlier from his home.
At the time, Park said that the case was being treated as a kidnap for ransom.
Huskins’ father, Michael, made an emotional appeal through CNN affiliate KGO-TV in San Francisco directed at the kidnappers: “Don’t hurt her, please don’t hurt her.”
“The biggest fear is the horror she might be going through … that’s my biggest fear. The horror, she doesn’t deserve that, not from anybody.”
“It’s like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from,” her father told the affiliate. “This is not supposed to happen.”
Then, the San Franciso Chronicle posted an audio clip. On it, a woman who identified herself as Denise Huskins says she has been abducted.
“My name is Denise Huskins. I am kidnapped, otherwise I’m fine,” the voice says. “Earlier today there was a plane crash in Alps and 158 people died. And one thing that people know about me is that I went to my first concert, me and my mom, to Blink 182 (last word is inaudible).”
The editor in chief of the Chronicle, Audrey Cooper, said the newspaper received a link to the audio file in an email.
The Chronicle reported the anonymous email said Huskins would be “returned safely (Wednesday). We will send a link to her location after she has been dropped off. She will be in good health and safe while she waits. Any advance on us or our associates will create a dangerous situation for Denise. Wait until she is recovered and then proceed how you will. We will be ready.”
Call to her father
Then came Wednesday.
The Chronicle reported that Huskins’ father said he received a voice mail from his daughter saying she had been dropped off at his apartment.
He called police to ask that the authorities pick her up and make sure she was safe, he told the newspaper.
“I almost had a heart attack,” he said, according to the Chronicle. “I tried to get authorities to pick her up, but they kept asking me a bunch of questions. I said, ‘Send a squad car.’ I was hyperventilating.”
Authorities are unclear what exactly is going on. Or , if they know, they’re not saying.
Police said the requested ransom amount was $8,500. The FBI is investigating the Huskins’ financial records.
About 40 detectives from various agencies and 100 support personnel “worked around the clock” on the case, leaving the community on edge, Park said.
“I can tell you that our investigation has concluded that none of the claims has been substantiated,” he said. “And I can go one step further to say this: That this was not a random act and that the members of our community are safe and that they have nothing to fear.”
“It’s disappointing. It’s disheartening,” he said.