Judge could dismiss key evidence in Vallejo "Gone Girl" kidnapping, robbery cases

Byby Melanie Woodrow and Katie Utehs KGO logo
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Judge could dismiss key evidence in Vallejo kidnapping, robbery cases
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A cellphone left at crime scene in Dublin has become a crucial piece of evidence in the Vallejo Gone Girl kidnapping case, but it may have to be thrown out.

VALLEJO, Calif. -- A cellphone left at a home invasion crime scene in Dublin has become a crucial piece of evidence in the Vallejo "Gone Girl" kidnapping case, but it may have to be thrown out.

The judge could decide if cellphone evidence in the Dublin home invasion robbery case is admissible, which could affect the federal kidnapping case later.

The victim of the June robbery gave his account in court Wednesday. The robbery suspect, Matthew Muller, is also accused of kidnapping Vallejo woman Denise Huskins.

The Dublin victim described waking up in the middle of the night to a man dressed in all black shining a flashlight and making demands.

One of the victims of the Dublin robbery, a father, testified that the robber woke him up with a flashlight and said, "Your daughter is OK, listen to what I say."

He said the robber tried to tie him up but he fought back. The victim said the robber hit his head with the flashlight and caused a cut. Meanwhile, he says his wife ran to the bathroom to call 911. The victim says the robber left the home when he told his wife to "get the gun," even though they didn't have one.

Dublin Police Services was able to identify Muller by a cellphone that he allegedly left behind. Without a search warrant, detectives bypassed the locked cellphone by calling 911. They then got the phone's number and discovered it was registered to Muller's parents -- evidence Muller's attorney wants thrown out.

"If you're going to search something without a warrant, you have to make that search clean," said Muller's attorney Thomas Johnson.

If a judge believes detectives had an urgent need to get the phone's number without a warrant, the evidence could be considered.

Dublin Police Services says they stand by their actions.

"No, not nervous, I'm confident," said Lt. Herb Walters.

The judge's decision in two weeks could have implications on this case and the Vallejo kidnapping case.

The cellphone led detectives to Muller as a suspect in the March Vallejo case. Vallejo police had called that home invasion kidnapping a hoax after Huskins turned up safe two days later in her hometown of Huntington Beach, where she says she was dropped off. Months later, investigators found evidence linking Muller to that crime at his South Lake Tahoe home.

Technology is key, not only to the investigation, but also Muller's alleged crimes. FBI agents say Muller asked multiple victims for email log-ins, cellphone contacts and other personal information related to cyber hacking.

Muller is also being investigated for other crimes in the Bay Area. In a search warrant request, agents outlined in detail Palo Alto and Mountain View attacks dating back to 2009.

"He has been a suspect in the Palo Alto case for some time," said Palo Alto police Lt. Zach Perron.

In two of the cases, the man drugged victims with NyQuil. He also threatened rape.

One victim had attended an event at Harvard University that was organized by Muller. At the time, Palo Alto police did not have enough evidence to prosecute Muller, although he was their only suspect.

Police are hoping evidence from the new cases may fill the gaps in theirs.

Muller has not been charged in the federal kidnapping case. New federal documents and search warrants filed Friday say Muller told a reporter during a recorded jail interview that he acted alone and that his actions may have been linked to a side effect from a vaccine.

The reporter was not allowed to record the interview and had been asked by Muller not to reveal his comments about acting alone and the vaccine. She did report that Muller said he felt bad for the kidnapping victim and thought the victim deserved an apology.