Dateline   |  February 15, 2013

'A Gathering Storm', Part 3

The investigation into the murder of Russel Douglas is at a dead end. Then an anonymous, mysterious tip call gives detectives their first solid lead.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> by the spring of 2004 detective mark plumber had been working the phones and knocking on doors for month, but getting nowhere.

>> i actually started to start over and do the entire investigation from step one all over again.

>> he had a murder at a good address on his hands and many more questions than answers. what had brought russel douglas to this remote area of whidbey island on the day after christmas? who put a bullet between his eyes and why?

>> we ran out every lead i could run out and none of them connected to russel douglas .

>> money, love, pride. talk to homicide detectives and they say any of those themes come up all of the time.

>> all of the time.

>> any of those themes seem to fit?

>> he had several hundred thousand dollars, money is a motive, love is a motive, pride is a motive.

>> for the detectives those factors seemed to point in the direction of russel 's wife brenna douglas . not only had she been cheated on and publicly humiliated by russel , but she was the named beneficiary of three life insurance policies he'd taken out on himself the problem was brenna's alibi was solid. there were plenty of people who could confirm that they'd been with her at the time russel douglas was killed. the detective knew he needed a break, and in july 2004 , exactly seven months to the day after the murder of russel douglas , he got one.

>> i was actually out canvassing and interviewing again, and i got a phone call that said we had a tip on the russel douglas homicide.

>> plumberg's partner on the investigation mike beach took the call.

>> he just said hey, i'm calling to see if you have unsolved homicides from december 2003 , and i said yes, sir, we actually have two in december of 2003 . which one are you referring to? he says the guy who got shot in the head.

>> beach said are says he didn't know if the caller was the killer or someone related to the killer, but he knew he didn't want to lose it.

>> i'm doing everything i can to keep this gentleman on the phone because at that point he still hadn't given me his name.

>> the caller was using an untraceable calling card and on the phone he seemed nervous.

>> he said if i told you what i know the shooter's going to know that i told you.

>> that first call lasted more than an hour, but the cops learned neither the name of the caller nor the killer.

>> he was still afraid to give us any more information so i'm doing everything i can to gain his trust, just to keep talking to him.

>> the informant agreed to call again the next day and this time he was more forthcoming.

>> he started telling me that i needed to look for a girlfriend of the shooter that was from las vegas . he kept saying the shooter's where i am.

>> the caller told beach that he was a retired air force serviceman and played in a band with the shooter. the shooter, he said, was his best friend.

>> i asked him again to call the next day and he said i have to work, but i can call on thursday. i said okay. i'll be here waiting and he almost whispered, the shooter is jim huden.

>> jim huden, in the age of google, that was all the break mark plumberg needed. by the end of the day the detectives knew that jim huden lived in south florida and played in a band and according to the band's website, one of its members was retired air force and so the next time the caller phoned detective beach was ready.

>> he was asking me were you able to do anything with what i gave you. i said yeah, i think i'm looking at a picture of you and the phone went quiet and he said you guys are good.

>> we're not good. it was simple google searching. at last, the detectives had a solid lead. one that raised plenty of questions. who was this jim huden and why was their tipster so will willing to give him up? the cops knew the answers to those questions. it could not be found in a google search . they would have to fly to southwest florida at a time of year when violent storm clouds always seem to luck just over the horizon.

>>> coming up, was this a case of love turned lethal? detectives learn about an affair between this beauty queen .

>> she was a whole lot of gorgeous woman.

>> and a guitar man with a dark side .

>> jim at one point had told me that he wanted to know what it felt like to kill somebody. or