Brenna Haslam Douglas

Widbey Island murder of Russel Douglas by a “beauty” queen

In 2003, on the charming Washington island of Widbey Island, lived a rather unhappily married couple named Russel and Brenna Douglas. They had 2 children. In December of 2003, the island sheriff’s deputies found Russel dead in his SUV with a bullet between his eyes.

Widbey Island is small and quaint. Crime is rare there, violent crime rarer still.

When deputies informed Brenna of her husband’s death, they found her reaction unusual: she asked few questions and remarked that Russel often said things that hurt her feelings.

When detectives went through Russel’s phone records, they found several calls to an attractive island resident named Peggy Sue Thomas (Peggy Sue was once crowned Ms. Washington). She told detectives that she was friends with Russel’s wife, but knew nothing about Russel’s murder.

Seven months after the murder, Widbey Island detectives received an anonymous tip from a caller, stating that the murder was committed by a musician named Jim Huden. Not sure who the heck this was, detectives learned that Huden was Peggy Sue’s boyfriend. They also learned that the mystery caller was a band-mate of Huber’s named Bill Hill.

Detectives contacted Hill again. Hill told them that Brenna and Peggy Sue came up with an idea to kill Russel for his life insurance proceeds. They would split the money three ways if Huden would do the dirty deed.

Peggy Sue and Jim were interrogated by police, and neither cracked. They were forced to release the couple. This was apparently way too much excitement for Jim, who left Peggy Sue and his wife and fled to Mexico, and lived there for 6 years. Peggy Sue left Washington and began a limousine service in Las Vegas.

Finally, Jim’s wife (who is NOT Peggy Sue) let Whidbey Island police know that Jim was in Veracruz, Mexico. He was arrested and returned to Washington in 2011. Peggy Sue was arrested in Vegas a month later.

Brenna Douglas now uses her maiden name of Haslam. ┬áIn 2012, there was no evidence of Briana’s involvement in the murder, but the Widbey Island prosecutor told the press that Brenna was “still on the radar.” You can see pics of her now practically-grown children on her Facebook page. She still works as a hair stylist and colorist but has moved from Whidbey Island. She still lives in Washington state.

Peggy Sue Thomas received 4 years in prison in 2013 as part of a deal to plea to criminal accessory. She is serving her sentence at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

Jim Huden was sentenced to 80 years for the murder of Russel Douglas and is serving his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary. It is unlikely that he will spend any time left on earth as a free man, due to his age at sentencing.

Bill Hill testified against Jim Huber at his trial.

Jean Huden, Jim’s wife, has battled drug addiction during and since the murder investigation and trials. In 2011, she was arrested and charged with forging checks. She was charged with parole violations and possession of a controlled substance in October, 2013.