Police catch woman wanted in 2003 Whidbey Island murder

Police catch woman wanted in 2003 Whidbey Island murder »Play Video
James Huden is seen in court on Monday, July 11, 2011.
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - A woman accused of helping kill a man on an island in Washington state's Puget Sound in 2003 has been arrested in New Mexico on a murder charge, authorities said Monday.

Peggy Sue Thomas, 45, was captured Saturday night at Navajo Lake near Farmington, on her houseboat, which was named "Off the Hook."

Investigators had followed her for five days, said Greg Banks, the prosecutor in Island County, Wash., which includes Whidbey Island, where the killing took place.

An arrest warrant issued last week accused her of plotting with her boyfriend, James Huden, to kill Russ Douglas. He was found fatally shot in a car in Freeland, Wash., two days after Christmas in 2003.

Huden, who had lived in Punta Gorda, Fla., was charged with murder in 2005 and arrested in Mexico in June. He was jailed in Coupeville, Wash.

"This is a very important case to us, and to the people of Island County," Banks said in a statement. "I am gratified that these much delayed proceedings are now under way, and that Russel Douglas and his family may now get the justice they deserve."

According to charging papers filed in the case, Huden was married while he was having an affair with Thomas, and his wife provided statements that helped link the pair to the killing.

The wife, Jean Huden, knew about the affair and even became friends with Thomas, according to a probable cause statement filed by a sheriff's detective in Washington state. Jean Huden said that her husband freely admitted to her that he killed Douglas, ostensibly because Douglas was abusive toward his own wife and children.

She directed authorities to where her husband was staying in Vera Cruz, Mexico.

She told investigators that Thomas acknowledged her role in the killing - luring Douglas to the place he was killed under the pretense of delivering a Christmas present for his wife. Thomas had worked at a salon owned by his wife.

Thomas told her she bought a pack of cigarettes at the time of the killing to use the receipt as an alibi, the detective's statement said.

Thomas was not expected to be returned to Washington state for several weeks at the earliest. She faces a standard sentencing range of 25 years to 31 years in prison if convicted.

It was not immediately clear if she had obtained a lawyer.