Peggy Sue Thomas: Ex-Beauty Queen Denies Whidbey Murder, but Claims to Know Killer

South Whidbey Record
Thomas in 2000
It's been eight years since Russel Douglas' body was found by a man walking his dog after Christmas 2003 on bucolic Whidbey Island. Investigators, following an international crime trail, now think they've cracked the case, pointing fingers at ex-beauty queen Peggy Sue Thomas. But the tall, redheaded Ms. Washington 2000 says she didn't do it - yet claims to know who did.

Formerly married to an Alaska oilman whose horse won the 2009 Kentucky Derby, Thomas has given up her Las Vegas boyfriend as the murder gunman. Investigators call it a contract killing to collect on $500,000 insurance money, and have implicated the victim's widow as a shadowy third figure in the shooting.

As detailed in this week's Seattle Weekly cover story, the widow denies any involvement, and both Thomas and her boyfriend James Huden - who was arrested hiding out in Mexico as a music teacher named Maestro Jim - have pled not guilty to first degree murder.

It's a case that has already drawn the likes of America's Most Wanted, while Dateline and others have been on scene - just as they and other national media were in another international case with Whidbey roots - Barefoot Bandit Colton Harris-Moore, who is set to soon appear in the same court as Thomas on still-unresolved burglary and theft charges.

Mark Allen, Thomas' multi-millionaire former husband and son of Bill Allen - a key figure in the Alaska oil corruption scandal that brought down Sen. Ted Stevens - has doubts about his ex, who he met in Vegas when she literally picked him up one night: she was then working as a limo driver.

After they wed and Thomas and her mother moved into his New Mexico horse ranch, Allen said, everything quickly went south. He made her a millionaire with the divorce settlement.

Does he think the pageant winner, who told contest judges that women should know "it's OK to do things out of the norm," was capable of murder?

"I said why didn't you just take a lie detector and clear yourself? She told me her attorney said not to," Allen says. "That never really made sense to me, if she was innocent."

comments powered by Disqus