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Murder suspect is coming back to Island County next week to face charges

COUPEVILLE — The second suspect in the 2003 Christmastime murder of Russel Douglas will make her first court appearance in Island County Superior Court next week, according to the Island County Prosecutor's Office.

Peggy Thomas, a former beauty queen and hairdresser who once worked with the wife of the murder victim, was arrested early last month.

Island County officials said Tuesday they had been notified by the U.S. Marshals Service that Thomas will return to Whidbey Island on Aug. 15. Her bail hearing has been set for Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Thomas faces a first-degree murder charge, along with James "Jim" Huden, in the death of Douglas, a Langley resident and father of two.

Authorities have said that Thomas lured Douglas to a remote property near Wahl Road in Freeland with the claim that the couple had a Christmas gift for Douglas' wife, and that Huden shot Douglas in the head after he showed up to retrieve the present.

Huden was arrested June 9 in Veracruz, Mexico after nearly seven years on the run and several appearances on "America's Most Wanted." Police said Huden escaped to Mexico as investigators were closing in on him as the prime suspect in the murder; an acquaintance of Huden told police that Huden had confessed to the crime shortly after he returned to Florida from his trip to Whidbey Island in late 2003, and another friend turned over the handgun used in the crime that Huden had given to him for safekeeping.

Thomas has also allegedly told investigators that Huden, her former boyfriend, had confessed to the murder during a phone call in the summer of 2004.

Authorities said Thomas was directly involved in plotting the murder and luring Douglas to his death; a fingerprint from Thomas' right index finger was found on a page of the operating manual for the handgun used in the killing.

Authorities have not given a motive for the murder.

Thomas was arrested July 9 by the San Juan County, New Mexico fugitive task force after they tracked her down and found her aboard a half-million dollar houseboat she owned called "Off the Hook" at Navajo Lake, N.M.

 

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