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Travel plan for suspected murderer is short on details
Turns out, the “complete itinerary” is not-so-complete.
Accused murderer Peggy Sue Thomas left Whidbey Island on Friday on a six-state road trip to visit family and run some personal errands in her former home states of Nevada and New Mexico before she faces arraignment later this month in Island County Superior Court.
A Superior Court judge approved the controversial trip — which has drawn headlines in the Washington Post and the Daily Mail, the second biggest-selling daily newspaper in the United Kingdom — for Thomas on Oct. 3 after her attorney said she had pressing matters out of state that couldn’t be handled by anyone else.
At the time, Craig Platt, Thomas’ attorney, said the 46-year-old former hairdresser and beauty queen wasn’t a flight risk and he promised to provide a complete itinerary to local law enforcement officials if the court loosened the conditions of her bail and let her leave the state.
Eleven days later, just before 5 p.m. on the day Thomas was expected to leave Washington for Idaho, Platt gave Thomas’ one-page itinerary to Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks.
What’s noticeable is what’s missing. A copy of the itinerary, obtained under a public records request by the Record, shows the travel plan includes only dates — and not times — of when Thomas will be traveling, contains no details of her airline flight from Spokane to
New Mexico, and doesn’t say exactly where Thomas will be staying Oct. 19-20.
Platt did not return a phone call to the Record for comment on Monday.
Banks, however, said the itinerary left much to be desired.
“I expected more detail,” Banks said Monday.
“The thing is, she’s already in Idaho and could be on her way to New Mexico. There’s really not a lot I can do about it,” he said.
Thomas is being monitored during her two-week absence from Washington — a trip that will stretch nearly 3,500 miles from Washington to New Mexico and back again — by a GPS bracelet. Authorities have raised concern that the device relies on cellphone reception, and won’t work in cellphone dead zones or while Thomas is on a commercial aircraft.
“We’re hoping that she comes back,” Banks said.
Thomas is scheduled to be arraigned in Island County Superior Court on Oct. 31 on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Russel Douglas of Langley.
Detectives claim that Thomas, who worked with the victim’s wife, Brenna, in her Langley hair salon called Just B’s, lured Russel Douglas to a remote property south of Freeland the day after Christmas in 2003 with the promise of a gift for Brenna.
When Douglas showed up to retrieve the present for his estranged wife, authorities allege, Thomas’ boyfriend James “Jim” Huden shot Douglas in the head as he sat in his car.
Detectives have said that Huden, who was arrested in June in Mexico after nearly seven years on the run, confessed to killing Douglas to several of his friends. Police retrieved the murder weapon, a Bersa .380-caliber pistol that Huden gave to a friend for safekeeping, and found a fingerprint from Thomas on the manual for the handgun. Huden’s wife also told detectives that Thomas had told her that she called Douglas and lured him to his death, with the ruse that she had a gift he needed to pick up for his wife. The informant also said Thomas went to the store to buy cigarettes while Huden went to murder Douglas, so the couple would have a store receipt to use as an alibi if they needed it.
Thomas was arrested on a $5 million warrant in July after police found her on her half-million dollar houseboat called “Off the Hook” at Navajo Lake in New Mexico.
Banks said earlier this week that he was most concerned about Thomas’ airline travel. If someone wanted to escape, he said, “that would be the opportunity to do it.”
Later Monday, Banks said he had received details from Steven Mohr, the owner of the company that is monitoring Thomas’ GPS bracelet, about Thomas’ flight plans, which mentioned an afternoon departure from Spokane to Denver, Colo. and then onward to Albuquerque, N.M. (An online search shows Thomas had taken a Southwest airlines flight to New Mexico.)
Mohr also contacted Banks on Tuesday, and said Thomas had landed in New Mexico and was following her travel itinerary.
Platt, the attorney for Thomas, has said she needed to leave the state to attend her half sister’s funeral in Bonners Ferry, Idaho on Oct. 15, and also to travel to her former homes in Roswell, N.M. and Clark County, Nev. to retrieve items that she could use in her defense in her first-degree murder trial.
Her attorney said she also needed to visit her home in New Mexico to arrange for home repairs, remove personal items and get the house ready for sale.
Thomas also plans to go to her property in Las Vegas because she had been told by her homeowners’ association that the condition of her property was violating the covenants of the neighborhood, and that she would be fined if the home wasn’t fixed up.
The road trip also included errands such as retrieving winter clothing, a trip to the dentist and retrieving her vehicle from out of state.
According to Thomas’ itinerary, she will stay with family in Idaho and New Mexico before returning to her home in Las Vegas this week.
Thomas will stay at the house that she put up as collateral so she could be released on a $500,000 bond. According to court documents and other records, Thomas bought the five-bedroom, three-bath home in the Mountain’s Edge subdivision as an investment property in July 2010 after her marriage to millionaire horse breeder Mark Allen ended.
The 4,075-square-foot home, which also boasts a showcase swimming pool set off by large boulders and a spa at one end, and a gourmet barbecue at the other, is valued at $331,320. The home had been valued at more than $733,000 five years ago.
Thomas is expected to stay at her Las Vegas home for roughly a week before heading to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit family, and then, to Bonners Ferry again to stay at her father’s home for two days before returning to Langley.