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Thomas to remain in jail on $5 million bond

Peggy Sue Thomas, the second suspect in the 2003 murder of Russel Douglas of Langley, talks to her lawyer Craig Platt during her first court appearance Tuesday. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Peggy Sue Thomas, the second suspect in the 2003 murder of Russel Douglas of Langley, talks to her lawyer Craig Platt during her first court appearance Tuesday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

COUPEVILLE — The second suspect in the brutal 2003 murder of a Langley man made her first appearance in Island County Superior Court Tuesday.

Peggy Sue Thomas, arrested early last month in New Mexico aboard her luxury houseboat called "Off the Hook," returned to Whidbey Island on Monday nearly eight years after Russel Douglas was shot as he sat in his car near a wooded driveway in Freeland waiting for a Christmas present.

Thomas was charged with first-degree murder on July 6. Authorities allege that Thomas, a former Washington state beauty queen, helped lure Douglas to his death, and that Thomas' boyfriend, James "Jim" Huden, was the triggerman in the murder.

Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock ordered Thomas to remain in jail Tuesday on a $5 million bond.

Hancock also said that if Thomas makes bail, that she be required to wear a GPS monitoring device and surrender her passport.

He also ordered that she have no contact with Huden, his wife, Jean Huden, or Brenna Douglas, the estranged wife of the murder victim.

Thomas, a hairdresser who once worked with Douglas at her South Whidbey beauty salon, has told detectives that Huden confessed to killing Russel Douglas during their Christmastime 2003 visit to Whidbey Island. Thomas allegedly told investigators that Huden had confessed to the murder during a phone call in the summer of 2004.

Last month, authorities implicated Thomas in the crime, and said she helped plot the murder. Detectives said they found a fingerprint from Thomas' right index finger on a page of the operating manual for the handgun used in the killing.

The handgun, a .380-caliber Bersa pistol, was turned over to police by a friend of Huden, who said he had been given the gun at Thomas' home when Huden and Thomas were living together in Nevada, where Thomas worked as a limo driver.

The witness — a retired police officer — told investigators that Huden gave him the gun for safekeeping, and did not want to keep it at Thomas' home because her young daughters were living there. He also said Thomas was present when Huden gave him the gun.

Thomas appeared tan and relaxed during Tuesday's brief court appearance, smiling repeatedly after entering the courtroom. Dressed in orange jail garb and handcuffed to a waist belt, she appeared to have an elastic medical bandage around her right arm above the elbow.

She frequently leaned over to her attorney, Craig Platt of Coupeville, to ask questions during the proceeding.

Thomas is expected to return to court again on Tuesday, Aug. 23, for an appearance on arraignment issues.

Platt said he expected to ask for the arraignment to be postponed so he can have more time to study the details of the case.

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