Cops chase murder leads to former Southenders

Information about two former South Whidbey residents is being sought in connection with the shooting death of a Renton man last December.

Homicide investigators for the Island County Sheriff’s Office say Peggy Thomas, 39, of Henderson, Nev., and James Huden, 51, Punta Gorda, Fla., might have knowledge or been involved with others in the shooting death of Russell Douglas. Douglas was killed Dec. 26, 2003 while sitting in his car, a yellow 2002 Geo Tracker, on a private driveway off Wahl Road. A couple walking their dog found Douglas at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 27.

Island County detectives interviewed both Huden and Thomas during the past two weeks, but they are interested in information about the pair’s activities on Whidbey Island, specifically during December 2003 when Douglas was killed.

“We believe there are individuals who have knowledge of the crime. We are encouraging them to come forward now,” said Sheriff Mike Hawley.

“Both Thomas and Huden have maintained family members and friends in the area,” Hawley said.On Monday, Hawley said recent developments in the investigation of the case prompted detectives to re-interview Thomas and Huden. The sheriff’s office has determined that Douglas, Thomas and Huden did know each other while living on the island.

The victim, Douglas, a Renton resident, was visiting his wife, Brenna Douglas, and the couple’s two children for the Christmas holiday. According to the sheriff’s office, Russell was reported to have left his wife’s home about 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 26 to run errands. He never returned.

Douglas was killed with one shot from a .38-caliber weapon fired at point-blank range. No gun has ever been found, but a shell casing was found inside the car.

Thomas was a well-know hair dresser in Langley before moving to Nevada. She worked for several salons including Just B’s, which is owned by the Douglas’ estranged wife, Brenna. Thomas gained notoriety in 2000 when she participated in the Mrs. Washington contest in Las Vegas.

Brenna Douglas, who was contacted by telephone Monday and told of the events in Nevada and Florida, said it was the first she had heard of it and had no comment.

Island County Sheriff’s detectives and the Las Vegas police served a search warrant on Thomas’ home two weeks ago. Hawley said that during the search “numerous pieces of evidence were removed” from the home.

Thomas was not home at the time of the search, but was interviewed later.

At the same time, of second team of investigators flew to Punta Gorda, Fla. to interview Huden. Further investigation will resume in Florida after the state of emergency caused by recent hurricanes is lifted.

Several of Thomas’ acquaintances and former colleagues interviewed this week but who wished to remain anonymous said they had heard that she was working for limousine service in Las Vegas.

Several people who also asked not to be named said they saw Thomas as recently as July at Choochokam in Langley.

Both Huden and Thomas grew up in the Puget Sound region and each maintained social and family contacts on Whidbey Island. Huden and Thomas were dating in the fall of 2002.

Huden, who is described as a good musician by one acquaintance, attended Langley High School and graduated in 1971, and lived in Port Towsnend before moving to Florida.

Huden is described as a 51-year-old man, 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, with light brown shoulder length hair and blue eyes. Thomas is a 39-year-old white female. She is 6 feet tall, 160 pounds, and has red hair and brown eyes. At the time of Douglas’ shooting, either may have been driving Thomas’ 1992 dark green Lexus LS 400 with a personalized Nevada plate, “FIRYRED.”


photos submitted

Jim Huden and Peggy Thomas in 2004. Island County Sheriff’s detectives are seeking information about the two who may have been involved with others in the shooting death of Russell Douglas in December 2003.


Russell Douglas

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