The Peggy Thomas, Jim Huden case will premiere on Oxygen’s Snapped Killer Couples this weekend for your crime-viewing pleasure. Peggy Thomas is best remembered as the drop-dead gorgeous beauty queen who spent time in prison for her part in the murder of her best friend’s husband, Russel Douglas, along with her former lover, Jim Huden. On Oxygen’s documentary TV crime series, detectives who worked the Whidbey Island case will discuss the salacious murder, along with acquaintances who knew Peggy Sue Thomas.
Everyone who knew Peggy Thomas will tell you that she was absolutely stunning, turning heads everywhere she went and attracting the attention of both men and women along the way.
It wasn’t always that way for Peggy, whose old photos show a more matronly-looking woman with a bit of added weight. It would take the extramarital affair of her African American husband to make Peggy Thomas whip herself into shape. And that she did!
The affair had made Peggy Thomas feel so awful that she decided to get the ultimate revenge by transforming herself. Despite the weight, she was still very attractive, and when friends at the beauty salon where she worked noticed that she was down and out over the affair, they suggested that she enter the Ms. Washington pageant. To prepare herself, Peggy Thomas began a strenuous workout and diet routine. She became so focused on her appearance that by the time she entered the contest she was pleasingly beautiful.
The Beauty Queen And The Rock Star
According to Daily Mail, Peggy Thomas ended up winning the Ms. Washington pageant. From there, she headed to Las Vegas, where she really hit it big. The limelight bug had bitten Peggy, and from that point on, she didn’t need her cheating hubby anymore. She filed for divorce and became reacquainted with an old crush from 20 years prior. His name was Jim Huden, a software developer who really knew how to charm the ladies. When he saw Peggy Thomas again, he fell in love hard. He was the same old Jim Huden. But now, he was a musician in a blues band.
Once they reconnected, the relationship turned sexual almost immediately. The steamy affair went on for a while and many of their sexual interludes took place in Sin City–Las Vegas.
But, the steam dissipated when Peggy soon found out that her lover boy was married back home. Making him choose, she paid a visit to his wife and demanded that he make a choice. Jim Huden chose his wife.
Secrets Of Murder
Though the relationship ended with Jim Huden, there was something left between them, a secret about a murder that had occurred on Whidbey Island. According to Seattle News, the victim had been found murdered in his vehicle on a remote dead end road in 2003. He had a gunshot to the forehead. When police found him, it looked like the victim had gone to that location to meet up with someone, and then that someone killed him—execution style!
The victim was identified as Russel Douglas. Phone records showed that he was last in contact with former beauty queen Peggy Sue Thomas. When detectives approached Peggy Thomas about the calls. She had a reasonable explanation. She told police that she had called Russ and asked to meet with him so that she could give him a present for his estranged wife, Brenna. Brenna was Peggy’s best friend and had worked with her at the beauty shop.
Police bought the story in the beginning and primarily focused their investigation on Russ’ wife, Brenna, who stood to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance benefits for her husband’s death.
But without a weapon or any real evidence, they didn’t have enough to charge Brenna. Later, they receive a phone call that blew the lid off of the case and sent it flying in another direction. A tipster told police that the killer was Jim Huden and that Peggy Sue Thomas had helped lure the victim to the scene. The tipster also alleged that Russ Douglas’ wife, Brenna, knew that the murder was going to happen.
Once police went public with the case, naming Peggy Thomas and Jim Huden as suspects, a friend of Jim Huden came forward with the murder weapon. With the evidence gathered, they had enough to take it to trial.
Prosecutors say the motive was revenge. According to friends, James Huden, aka Jim Huden, told people that he had been abused as a child and wanted revenge by killing someone who was also an abuser. The notion that Russ was physically abusive to his wife came about during gossip talk at the beauty salon where the ladies worked. Peggy Thomas told Jim Huden about her best friend’s abusive spouse, and Jim Huden, who was already looking for an abuser to kill, jumped at the chance to kill a man he had never met.
Peggy Thomas has always denied having any role in the killing and stated that she had no idea that Jim was planning to kill Russ.
In the end, Jim Huden fled to Mexico to escape prosecution. When he was captured, he refused to testify against his former red-haired flame. He was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison, according to CBS News. For her part in the murder, Peggy Thomas, plea bargained in exchange for a 4-year sentence. She was due to be released in August 2016. Brenna Douglas was never charged for her husband’s murder.
The beauty queen’s case has been featured on few crime documentary series and is the subject of a book by Ann Rule. Watch this week’s Snapped: Killer Couples tonight at 9/8 p.m. Central on Oxygen. Last week, Oxygen’s Killer Couples aired the case of Debra Canady.
[Image via Henny van Roomen/Shutterstock]