On 12 ,. 26, 2003, on the dead-finish road on Whidbey Island in Washington condition, Russel Douglas was shot dead in the 2002 Chevrolet Tracker. He was discovered having a bullet hole between his eyes and a 380-caliber covering casing was based in the vehicle. Investigators had couple of clues regarding who might have wiped out the humble father of two but were interested in his estranged wife when her response to his dying seemed muted. Their winding analysis in to the murder would continue for nine many lead everywhere, eventually exposing a plot that would send an old beauty queen to prison and upend the lives of countless couples along the way.
The storyline from the Whidbey Island murder was the muse for veteran true-crime author Ann Rule’s bestselling 2013 thriller, “Practice to Trick,” and today the Lifetime movie, “Circle of Deceptiveness.” It had been also the topic of a season 8 episode of Archiweekend’s “Killer Couples. The book and movie provide a true-crime account of the items happened between Brenna Douglas, her friend Peggy Sue Thomas, Thomas’ lover Jim Huden, and just how everything led to bloodshed and prison for 2 of these, even while questions regarding the situation linger. Here’s a glance at what really happened between Thomas, Allen, and Brenna Douglas — based on them, and detectives — where the mysterious and deadly occasions in 2003 brought them.
(Warning: spoilers below)
Peggy Sue Thomas
Rule’s book centers heavily around the former beauty queen’s relationship with Huden, it will get well into the tragic genealogy from the former Ms. Washington. In her own book, Rule delves in to the murders and deaths in Thomas’s family over nearly fifty years, in the 1963 murder of her father’s first wife with a teenage neighbor towards the dying of her sister as Thomas was waiting for trial this year she lost two other family people among.
However in time between these tragedies, Thomas brought an amazing existence. She offered being an aircraft auto technician during Operation Desert Storm in early 1990s, labored within an auto repair center, and it was married and divorced three occasions she’d two kids, Taylor and Mariah, and wound up a uniform following a divorce you will find, she was topped Ms. Washington in 2000 at 35.
Thomas had developed with Huden in Whidbey Island, as she told CBS News’ Peter Van Sant for any “48 Hours” segment around the situation in 2014 like a girl, she’d were built with a crush on him, she stated. It had been when she came back for their hometown for any funeral in 2002 that they reconnected with Huden — whose wife, unknowingly to her initially, was during the Tampa suburbs, where he’d moved within the ’80s. Huden, a music performer, frequently visited visit Thomas in Vegas, where she’d moved, as their affair heated up — telling his wife he was searching at venues to reserve gigs.
Brenna Douglas, a detailed friend of Thomas, met the pair in April 2003 in Vegas — several weeks before her husband’s murder. Thomas had labored like a hairstylist at Brenna’s Whidbey Island salon. Brenna had moved on Russel and filed a restraining order against him, alleging he beat her. It had been in Vegas that Brenna allegedly told Thomas her husband was “more vital in my experience dead than alive,” as Thomas recounted to CBS News.
It had been and in Vegas that Thomas was arrested in 2004 on her alleged role in Russel Douglas’ murder.
“I’d a minimum of three police officials with guns to my mind saying to ‘Freeze! Freeze! Freeze!’ Plus they take my vehicle keys … put me in handcuffs, shove me inside a dark laundry room,” Thomas told CBS producers, adding they stated she’d obtain the dying penalty and that “your kids are likely to watch you die.”
However with all evidence circumstantial, Thomas wasn’t billed. A minimum of not.
In 2004, however, she stated she been told by detectives again, following the gun accustomed to kill Douglas was associated with Huden — also to her — by uncle she rapidly phoned Huden afterward, she told CBS producers. In the end, the pair have been going to the area where they increased up together at the time from the murder. And, tomorrow, Huden had disappeared for some time — about 30 minutes, based on her form of occasions — before they left to go back to Vegas. It had been about this frantic call he confessed towards the killing, she stated.
“He stated, ‘I’m sorry I acquired you involved. Just realize that I really like you and also you may never see me again,’” Thomas remembered within the interview.
Then, Huden disappeared on her behalf. But nonetheless, no charges associated with Douglas’ murder materialized.
3 years later, Thomas married Mark Allen, whose family got wealthy building oil pipelines, and gone to live in his ranch in Roswell, Boise State Broncos within several weeks, the connection began to crumble and that he declared a restraining order against her, because he told San antonio Weekly this year. After 2 yrs in divorce court, Thomas playing around $a million in cash and assets, along with a houseboat in Boise State Broncos she apparently named Free.
However in the summer time of 2011, Thomas was formally billed using the murder of Russel Douglas, after government bodies finally swept up with Huden in Mexico. Then, per week before she ended up being to mind to the court, prosecutors offered a plea deal — a lower control of rendering criminal assistance, which carried a four-year sentence — and she or he recognized. She’d to confess to helping Huden following the murder included in the deal. Thomas spoke to CBS News about her decision, which some found surprising, because the situation against her hinged around the shaky testimony of Huden’s wife.
“An individual that’s smart enough to understand that within this small little community of people that happen to be given and given and given a tale that is not true … which i wasn’t gonna obtain a fair trial,” she told CBS.
Thomas offered her four-year sentence in the Washington Corrections Center for ladies, and it was released in 2016. She can’t be billed with murder within the Douglas situation — even when additional evidence emerges.
As he joined his affair with Thomas, Huden would be a effective software developer who’d made nearly a awesome million dollars after selling a course to Microsoft. In Florida, he spent his time together with his wife, Jean Huden, and played with his local smooth-jazz band, Buck Naked and also the Xhibitionists. He seemed to be a survivor of childhood abuse by his stepfather, because he told his bandmate, Bill Hill, one drunk night. Also, he told his buddy the abuse he’d endured had driven him to search out and kill another abuser, Russel Douglas, as Hill told Det. Mark Plumberg from the Island County Sheriff’s Office red carpet several weeks of agonizing over his friend’s sudden confession.
“He states, ‘So I began lookin’ for an individual that met that M.O.'” Hill told CBS News in 2014. “’I shot [Douglas].’ … He states, ‘Got a gun and… shot him within the mind.’”
That confession and Hill’s call to Plumberg was the important thing burglary the languishing analysis. Hill also told investigators that Huden had named Thomas and Brenna Douglas as accomplices within the murder.
As Hurricane Charlie barreled lower around the west coast of Florida in August 2004, Huden saw his chance to leave. He’d just talked to Thomas over the telephone — confessing to her, as she states — after confiding in the wife, split town for Veracruz, Mexico Jean Huden later accepted to helping her husband flee and delivering him money. He entered the border on Sept. 10, 2004, as documents reveal. In Veracruz, he was referred to as Jim Martin he ongoing to experience live music while there, Jorge Mabarak, a buddy and well-known jazz pianist in Mexico, told “48 Hrs.”
“He loved el born area. He’d come here and take hrs,” Mabarak told producers, adding that they’d frequently experience stage together. “Everybody loved him. He loved everyone. Didn’t have any difficulty. He would be a blues player along with a bluesman.”
That led to This summer 2011, eight years following the murder, as he was tracked lower, charged with first-degree murder, extradited to Washington, and held on $ten million bail. Jean Huden, it turned out, had fallen on hard occasions, after an arrest in Florida for thievery, forging checks, and drug charges, she made the decision to trade info on her husband’s location, as detectives told San antonio Weekly this year.
At Huden’s eight-day trial, which saw 20 witnesses go ahead and take stand, prosecutors presented the situation he and Thomas had plotted to kill Douglas, luring him to his dying with a story that they gifts for Brenna he could provide her. Jean Huden had told detectives that her husband and Thomas plotted and transported the murder she’d talked to Thomas about this on several occasions, she stated, based on the South Whidbey record. Bill Hill, whose call to detectives blow the situation open, also testified.
“It had been … a frightening situation,” Hill told CBS. “I possibly could not take a look at him whole time I had been around the stand.”
Huden, who never required the stand, was discovered guilty through the jury within four hrs. He was sentenced to eighty years for that murder, and it is serving his sentence in the Washington Condition Penitentiary it’s unlikely he’ll be released.
Huden never implicated Peggy Sue Thomas or Brenna Douglas within the murder.
After her husband’s killing, Brenna Douglas’s supposedly awesome response to detectives made her the best suspect. She seemed to be alone of great interest by having an apparent motive: A possible $500,000 payout from existence insurance plans that they was set to gather after her estranged husband’s dying. This is useful when confronted with mounting debt along with a battling salon.
After Douglas was slain, his widow told investigators that they and Russel have been spending some time along with their two kids for that Christmas holiday. Brenna also pointed out his matters, emotional abuse, making allusions to past physical abuse, detectives stated. She’d last seen him on 12 ,. 26 as he left to operate some errands. There wasn’t any method for detectives to link her towards the shooting, but she continued to be a suspect.
Because the analysis ongoing, in The month of january 2004, Brenna attempted to gather around the insurance. However, as reported in San antonio Weekly, she hit a snag with insurer AIG as she’d been labeled an “accomplice” in her own husband’s murder by prosecutor Greg Banks. This triggered Washington’s “slayer statute,” which denies advantages to individuals involved with abnormal dying. But she pressed back hard in the court and finally received a $200,000 payout — with $1,200 interest — in 2005.
“I am by no means accountable for the dying of my hubby,” she told a legal court while fighting for that payout. “I didn’t have participation within the murder, there cannot often be a scintilla of evidence that proves otherwise, because none exists.”
However a technicality avoided her from receiving full payment for her late husband’s $300,000 policy from Maqui berry farmers Insurance he’d unsuccessful to reveal that he’d been treated for any heart murmur. Based on Rule’s book, she used the insurance coverage money to purchase an Sports utility vehicle along with a home, which eventually fell into property foreclosure.
This Year, she left Whidbey Island for Ellensburg — about 135 miles away — for any job. She then moved together with her kids to Ferndale, Washington, based on “Practice to Trick.” It outlines how Brenna was among the 20 witnesses to accept stand at Huden’s trial talking with Banks, she outlined her relationship with Thomas and also the defendant and her visit to Vegas several weeks before her husband’s dying. She spoke “cautiously with no apparent vitriol” at her husband’s killer’s trial, Rule authored.
Brenna Douglas never was billed in her estranged husband’s dying, though she remained around the authorities’ radar as lately as 2014.
“She remains a suspect i believe,” Greg Banks told CBS News then. “Even today.Inches