Monday, February 23, 2015
Dateline reports unusual compulsive killing in Washington state by middle-aged man seeking "proxy revenge" in "A Gathering Storm"
NBC Dateline’s “Saturday Night Mystery” called “A Gathering Storm” presented a particularly disturbing crime, committed by a middle-aged man (James Huden) who had told his girl friend (Peggy Sue Thomas) in a Las Vegas hotel room, after participating in a beauty pageant, that he wanted to find out “what it feels like to kill somebody”. Two or three years later, she was working in a beauty salon in Washington state owned by Brenna Douglas, who told her that her (Brenna’s) husband Russell had been abusive. Huden’s compulsion got triggered (by the secondary idea of avenging someone else’s domestic abuse by proxy), and he set up a trap to lure Russell to a remote spot on Whidbey Island, and executed him with a single bullet between the eyes. The men had never met before. The Dateline link for the full video is here and watching it may require logon to a cable provider.
I recall a crime somewhat like this in 1991 in Washington DC (a drive-by between two autos in motion on a public street), where that’s what the perpetrator said. I can recall a conversation about it in a car among friends returning from a day hike, saying that sort of thing is the reason we need a death penalty.
Later, Huden would say he realized he had “made a mistake”, irreversible indeed in our own space-time continuum. But he would spend some time on the Florida west coast before police would catch up with him, 4000 miles away (a diagonal across the continental US).
A True Crime blog report on the case is here.
Huden would get 80 years for the crime, but you wonder why he didn’t get life without parole.
Peggy Sue Thomas, as some see as a major culprit, would get four years, as reported in this local newspaper.
Again, some of the Dateline documentaries are more intriguing than typical Hollywood crime films.
Picture: Hurricane damage in Punta Gorda, FL, November 2004, personal trip.