Dateline   |  February 15, 2013

'A Gathering Storm', Part 8

While Jean grows steadily poorer supporting Jim’s life on the lam, Jim’s ex-girlfriend Peggy Thomas marries a millionaire.

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

>>> for nine months the mystery why weighed on his family. then as it often does in this peggy thomas did.

>> peggy thomas is the owner of the home that russel and brenna rented that they had had a verbal agreement that they were going to buy if they could come up with the capital.

>> given that brenna was the named beneficiary on russel 's life insurance policies, russel 's family wondered if his death was in some way part of a real estate deal.

>> i guess some of our family members kept thinking did peggy maybe do this or set this all up because she thought that if brenna got insurance money she would buy the house and peggy would then have that instant cash?

>> peggy thomas appeared to be the only link between jim huden and russel douglas, and it wasn't just a circumstantial connection, either. on page 14 of the murder weapon's owner's manual, investigators had found a fingerprint belonging to peggy thomas . troubling, but what concerned russel douglas' brother and sister most was the fact that brenna didn't appear to be the least bit upset about the prospect of her friend peggy being involved in her husband's murder.

>> he worked with her and you're not saying a peep, you know? if it was your friend, something, either disbelief or i can't believe my friend did this, i want to make sure they get punished.

>> let's go get them.

>> i said, you know, when you were really mad at russ did you ever say to peggy while you guys were working together that russ hads some insurance money and he'd be better to you dead than alive. she said, well, i might have and at that point i kind of looked at her and i thought, man, did this not give somebody a motive somewhere along the line?

>> was this a case of angry words having unintended consequences or as some suspected, had brenna actively recruited russel 's killers? the family couldn't know for sure, but that question now complicated their relationships with brenna and the grandchildren.

>> and we tried to be as supportive as we could for the kids, but i know she listens to all of their conversations. so it's a very controlled conversation.

>> when it comes to awkward telephone conversations none could have been more strained than the ones that took place between jim huden's lover and jim huden's wife after he fled to mexico .

>> you call her first or she called you?

>> no. she called me.

>> what did she want to talk about?

>> well, she wanted to know how much the cops had been bugging me and what they knew and if i had heard from jim or anything like that.

>> and you, what? told her?

>> i told her what the cops had said. i didn't tell her anything about jim .

>> why did you not hang up the phone?

>> i don't know. i don't know.

>> this isn't even jim . this is jim 's mistress.

>> i know. i'm an idiot.

>> jim asked her to fly out to vegas to meet peggy face-to-face and keep her in the loop.

>> we did have jim in common. i never told her where he was. i did tell her i knew he was okay. it was just very weird. we went out and had drinks and saw a band, and i really found it hard to hate her as much as i wanted to.

>> as months passed and jim huden's trail grew colder, the lives of the women who would love him took drastically divergent paths while jean grew steadily poor supporting jim , the ever-resourceful peggy , now a limo driver in vegas hit the jackpot. in 2007 one of her affairs turned out to be this man, mark allen , a new mexico horse breeder and heir to an oil fortune.

>> the limo people asked me do you want some guy or the ex-mrs. washington, and i said i'll take the ex-mrs. washington. allen asked her to marry him.

>> the biggest mistake i ever made in my life.

>> within months of moving to his new mexico ranch, allen says peggy was nosing her way into his horse business, pressing him to fire longtime employees and hire friends of hers.

>> you know, she wanted her people to do the accounting and stuff.

>> when he refused, allen says, the man magnet turned into a maneater.

>> she'd get on me and it was -- it was like a man getting on you. she's a pretty good sized woman. i looked in her eyes and i -- i mean, she's evil. she is evil.

>> but if peggy thomas married well, she divorced even better. allen says he gave her money and an 80-foot houseboat just to go away.

>> the divorce took way longer than the marriage did.

>> looking back, mark allen says he should have known better. he says a few days before their wedding peggy let him in on a little secret.

>> she said she was accused of being involved in a murder and that her ex-boyfriend had killed a guy, she said, but i didn't have nothing to do with it. i said, did you take a lie detector ? she said, no, my lawyer told me not to. i said if you're innocent why would aren't you take a lie detector and she never gave me a good answer.

>> it should be noted that although mark allen says his brief marriage to peggy thomas cost him dearly, she did give him at least one chuckle.

>> bird has won the kentucky derby .

>> in 2009 after one of his horses, mine that bird, won the kentucky derby , allen says he saw peggy quoted in the press.

>> she said she was down here training horses and breeding horses. peggy can't even step up on a horse.

>>> coming up, whatever happened to jim , the fugitive from justice and his wife jean?

>> i was getting ready to leave and not be able to come back to this country for the rest of my life.

>> torn between joining jim on the lam and turning him in. which would she choose? when "dateline" continues. abreva knocks