FARMINGTON – A bizarre murder case which included a years-long investigation that spanned the county and received national media attention will wrap up today when a woman is sentenced to prison for her role in the homicide.
The woman was arrested in July 2011 in Navajo Dam with the help of San Juan County Sheriff's Office. A captain from the sheriff's off ice will appear on a Dateline NBC two-hour feature on the crime that will air tonight at 8 p.m.
Peggy Sue Thomas, 47, will be sentenced in a Washington state courtroom today for her role in a 2003 homicide in Whidbey Island, which is in Washington's Puget Sound. News reports say she will receive a four-year prison sentence as part of her plea agreement.
The Island County Sheriff's Office in Washington said Thomas lured Russel Douglas, who was 32, to a rural area on Whidbey Island the day after Christmas in 2003 where he was shot in the head and killed by James Huden.
Huden was convicted of first-degree murder last summer and sentenced to 80 years in prison, according to news reports. Huden also spent seven years on the run before he was arrested in Veracruz, Mexico in June, 2011.
Thomas was a former Mrs. Washington beauty queen and police said she was having affairs with Douglas and Huden.
Thomas was a wanted fugitive who appeared on America's Most Wanted before she was arrested during a sting operation that included local law enforcement, San Juan County Sheriff's Office Capt. Brice Current said.
Investigators from the Island County Sheriff's Office, which includes Whidbey Island, tracked Thomas to Navajo Dam using electronic and postal records searches. She was living on 62-foot aluminum houseboat called “Off the Hook,” according to the charging documents against Thomas.
The sheriff's office Special Enforcement Team and U.S. Marshals watched Thomas from a nearby houseboat for days. They set up a sting by informing her she had a package at Navajo Lake State Park and planned to arrest her when she picked up the mail, Current said.
“She was suspicious and she said she had been waiting for it for a long time,” Current said.
Current was fly-fishing at Texas Hole in Navajo Dam on a Saturday afternoon when he got a call from former Navajo Lake State Park Superintendent Doug McKim saying Thomas was in the main office.
Current went to the state park's main office and helped arrest Thomas. He briefly spoke her before she was booked in San Juan County Detention Center before she was extradited to Washington.
Current was interviewed at Navajo Lake about Thomas' arrest. The two-hour segment will be aired tonight at 8 p.m.
The news show titled the piece “A Gathering Storm” and teased it by saying it is: “A love triangle involving a beauty queen, a devoted wife and a guitar hero leads to murder, and an investigation that stretches across the county and takes years to unfold.”