Second suspect in Douglas murder allegedly lured victim to murder scene
July 11, 2011 · 11:49 AM
The second suspect arrested in the 2003 murder of a Langley man allegedly helped lure the victim to where he was killed, and plotted the murder with the man who will be arraigned for first-degree murder today in an Island County courtroom.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks announced Monday that Peggy Thomas, a former Langley resident who worked with the murder victim's wife, has been arrested as an accomplice to the crime.
Thomas has told investigators that James "Jim" Huden — the prime suspect in the killing of Russel Douglas — had confessed to the murder during a phone call the summer following the murder.
Officials allege that she helped Huden plot the murder and helped lure Douglas to the remote driveway on Wahl Road where he was killed.
Thomas was arrested on Saturday in New Mexico. Huden was arrested for first-degree murder on June 9 in Veracruz, Mexico, and will be arraigned today in Island County Superior Court.
Huden is believed to be the trigger man in the day-after-Christmas murder of Douglas, who was found shot dead in the front seat of his yellow 2002 Geo Tracker in a Freeland driveway nearly eight years ago.
Law enforcement officials said Thomas, a Las Vegas limousine driver and Huden's mistress, was heavily involved in the murder. Police said they found a fingerprint from Thomas' right index finger on page 14 of the operating manual for the handgun used in the murder, and that she also helped lure Douglas to where he was killed.
She allegedly told police, however, that she was not present when Douglas was killed, according to the "certificate of probable cause" in the case, but knew that Huden had committed the crime.
Thomas told investigators that Huden confessed to the murder in a phone call to her nearly eight months after the killing on Aug. 31, 2004. Thomas also said that Huden said he had killed Douglas "when he went out for smokes" on the day they left Whidbey after a holiday visit to the island.
Court documents released Monday also provided other details of the events after the murder.
Huden had been hiding out in Mexico for years after the crime, but he was found after Jean Huden, his wife, told police in Punta Gorda, Fla. where he was hiding out.
The tip led directly to the suspect's capture, officials said.
Jean Huden was interviewed by an Island County detective on June 20 and June 21 at her home in Punta Gorda, and said that her husband had confessed to killing Douglas, in a conversation shortly after he was interviewed by detectives in August 2004.
Police did not arrest Huden at the time, citing insufficient evidence, and Huden used the arrival of Hurricane Charley to flee Florida for Mexico.
His wife said that she supported him while he was on the run from the law in Mexico, transferring funds to him through a Mexican friend, and she also said she visited Huden several times in Mexico and had thought about moving there.
She also told police she knew that her husband was having an affair with Thomas, but the two became friends and the friendship continued even after he fled to Mexico. They kept in close contact, but didn't talk about the murder over the phone because Thomas was worried about a wiretap.
Instead, Huden's wife visited Thomas in Nevada several times to meet and talk while Huden was a fugitive in Mexico.
Huden's wife said her husband had told her that he had planned to kill Douglas with the help of Thomas, and that Douglas was an abusive husband and father.
Jean Huden also told investigators that Thomas has admitted her part in the murder, and said it was "her job to lure Russel Douglas to the murder location with a Christmas present," according to court documents.
Huden's wife said that Thomas had also told her that she went to the store to buy cigarettes while Huden was committing the murder, so they would have a store receipt that would serve as an alibi.
Thomas was once a hairstylist at Studio A in Langley, and worked at a hair salon owned by the victim's wife, Brenna Douglas, called Just B's in Langley.
She is a former Ms. Washington and competed in the Ms. U.S. Continental Pageant in 2000, where she won the evening gown competition.