Man arrested in Mexico in 2003 Whidbey Island killing

COUPEVILLE — A Florida businessman and musician has been arrested in Mexico, charged with a 2003 killing on Whidbey Island.

James “Jim” Huden, 58, was arrested in Mexico on Thursday, and is awaiting extradition to the United States. He had been giving guitar lessons under the name “Maestro Jim.”

Huden is accused of fatally shooting Russel Douglas on Dec. 26, 2003. Douglas, 31, was found dead in the front seat of a car in some woods near a driveway in Freeland. The Langley father of two young children had been shot in the head.

Huden was charged in 2005 with first-degree murder, and the case is still open in Island County Superior Court. A judge six years ago issued a $1 million arrest warrant.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said Friday that Huden will be flown to Houston, Texas, where he will await extradition.

“At this point, the timeline for his return to Island County is unclear, but we expect it will be no more than 60 days, possibly much sooner,” Banks said.

Huden previously had lived on Whidbey Island and had friends and family there at the time of the murder. He returned for a Christmas visit with a friend from Henderson, Nev., officials said. Detectives searched the friend’s home and car for evidence.

Huden allegedly told a friend in Florida that he had used a .38-caliber handgun to kill Douglas. The friend told detectives that Huden and a former co-worker of Douglas’ wife lured him to the area by telling him they had a present for him to deliver to his estranged wife, according to court papers filed in May of 2005.

In 2004, detectives in Las Cruces, N.M., recovered a semiautomatic .38-caliber pistol believed used to kill Douglas. Huden allegedly had given the pistol to another friend in the Las Vegas area for safekeeping and the friend later moved, according to court papers.

In August of the same year, a team of investigators went to Punta Gorda, Fla., and talked with Huden. They returned to Washington days before Hurricane Charley hit southwest Florida.

Huden disappeared.

Florida officials have been working closely with Island County, said sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Goff in a press release from Charlotte County, Fla.

“We recently obtained information as to his new identity, employment and location in Vera Cruz, Mexico,” Goff said. “We passed this information on to our counterparts in Mexico that resulted in his arrest Thursday.”

Huden is a former Punta Gorda businessman. The television show “America’s Most Wanted” ran a story about Huden on July 19, 2008. Huden moved to Punta Gorda in the 1980s.

He and his wife set up a computer business. He was involved in several community organizations and was vice president of the then Punta Gorda Business Alliance, now the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce.

In Florida, he was best known for his band called “Buck Naked and the X-hibitionists,” which played at the former Holiday Inn in Punta Gorda for many years.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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