The detective whose work eventually led to an arrest in the Vallejo kidnap case “Googled stuff,” networked with other agencies, and pecked away at leads until her work was done.
“She’s a little bulldog,” Dublin Police Lt. Herb Waters said on Tuesday, referring to Detective Misty Carausu. “She’s a go-getter.”
On Monday, the FBI announced the arrest of Matthew Muller, 38, of Orangeville, Calif. (Sacramento County) in the March 25 kidnap of Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, who told Vallejo police they were abducted, drugged and tied up, before being let go and dropped off in Huntington Beach two days later.
Their story was so wild that Vallejo Police Lt. Kenny Parks told the public at the time that their story was a “hoax.”
For his part, Muller’s attorney, Thomas Johnson, said that his client will plead “not guilty” as soon as he is removed from Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on a home invasion robbery charge to federal court in Sacramento to face the kidnap arrest.
Muller’s arrest directly follows on the heels of a Dublin home invasion – a rare event in the sleepy East Bay suburb – on June 5 about 3:30 a.m.
A man entered a home and tied up a husband and wife while they were sleeping. The wife got away and called 911 from the bathroom, while her husband fought with the man, pulling off his mask, Walters said at the time. The suspect in that case dropped his cell phone, which is what helped police eventually track him down.
It was a big story for Dublin, and Carausu, who used to work in patrol and then as an evidence technician, came in on a Saturday to “work the case,” Walters said.
She started creating a timeline and working the phone, Walters said. Then she realized the phone was registered to Muller’s stepfather, who declined to speak to NBC Bay Area by phone on Tuesday, and who was very cooperative, Walters said. When Carausu started searching who was connected to the phone, Muller’s name came up.
Carausu then blasted flyers to all the Bay Area police agencies: Was any agency working on a similar home invasion?
Palo Alto police called immediately. Agents had somehow identified Muller by name in connection to an Oct. 18, 2009 home invasion robbery in the 2000 block of Amherst Avenue. The woman inside that home woke up to find a man inside her bedroom about 3:30 a.m., according to Agent Rich Bullerjahn. The suspect, described only as “tall and lean,” blindfolded the woman, who heard at least one other male voice in the room. One suspect told the woman he was going to rob her and left without hurting her.
On Tuesday, Palo Alto Police Lt. Zach Perron would not disclose to NBC Bay Area how his detectives came up with Muller’s name from the home invasion six years ago, only to say that the case against him now – in light of the Dublin and FBI arrests – is “active and ongoing.”
Once Carausu had a name, she had a lot more to work with, Walters said. And she “Googled stuff,” to piece parts of the puzzle together, he said. She combined what she learned on Google with law enforcement databases to come up with more and more leads.
“She was working on her desktop, her laptop,” Walter said. “Every few hours we’d meet. She kept running with it.”
Eventually, Vallejo police called Dublin police, too, Walters said, because officers realized the Dublin home invasion robbery had some similarities with the reported March 25 kidnap of Huskins and Quinn. The FBI had been working with Vallejo since March on the case because it was a highly unusual missing persons case.
Dublin police arrested Muller in the home invasion case on June 8.
And the FBI arrested Muller later that month, after finding several things in his car that led them back to Vallejo: Most notably a GPS history showing the car’s movements near Huskins’ home in Vallejo and where she was dropped off days later in Huntington Beach, and swim goggles with a long blond hair attached.