Is Circle of Deception a True Story?

‘Circle of Deception’ is a crime-drama movie that centers upon the gruesome murder of Russel Douglas. A businessman on a small island community, Douglas, got along well with everyone but when his murder investigation begins, the shocking revelations leave everyone dumbstruck. The movie introduces viewers to a gripping tale of lies and deception that can get anyone hooked to the very end. Since the film revolves around murder and greed with impressive attention to detail, some viewers obviously wonder if ‘Circle of Deception’ is rooted in reality or it’s just a work of fiction. To answer that question, let’s have a detailed overview of its inception.

Is ‘Circle of Deception’ Based on a True Story?

Yes, ‘Circle of Deception’ is based on a true story. It is inspired by Ann Rule’s true-crime book ‘Practice to Deceive’, which delves deeper into the murder of Russel Douglas. The businessman was murdered in cold blood in his car in 2003. His body was later found with a gunshot wound between his eyes on Whidbey Island. The police quickly ruled out the possibility of suicide since no gun was found in the car. The case proved to be a very complicated one as the murderer evaded the police for almost a decade because of a lack of evidence. But when the case was solved, it not only shocked the small community of Whidbey Island but entire America.

Russel Douglas

To understand what happened, let’s go back to Boxing day in 2003. Russel was asked by his wife’s friend, Peggy Sue Thomas, to come to a secluded spot where she wanted to hand him a present for Brenna (Russel’s wife). Although Russel believed that it was just an ordinary meeting, when he arrived at the spot, he was met by Peggy’s lover Jim Huden, who shot and killed him. Jim became a fugitive and evaded the police for a long time.

James “Jim” Huden

The police had suspected Brenna Douglas, who’d accused Russel of infidelity, to be the murderer. But they could not find any connection or motive of the murder. Apparently, Brenna had also told her friend Peggy that Russel was physically abusive, although it was never established that her husband ever did anything wrong to her. The case dragged on with no progress for years, until one day, when police received a tip-off from Jim Huden’s friend. He told them that Jim’s step-father had been physically abusive to him in childhood, so when he got to know that Russel was like that too, he killed him to avenge the past wrongs that were done to him.

The police already had call records that proved Peggy had contacted Russel on the night of his murder. Moreover, they also found the gun that was the murder weapon and it belonged to Jim. As one secret after another was revealed, the police came up with the theory that Peggy had asked Jim to murder Russel. After committing the crime, Jim had run away to Mexico while Peggy had carried on with her life in Washington.

Peggy Sue Thomas

It wasn’t until 2011, that Jim was caught by the police and just a month later, Peggy was also arrested on her houseboat. Jim went on trial in 2012, and despite the offer to testify against Peggy for a reduced sentence, he refused. The jury finally came to the conclusion that Jim had murdered Russel to avenge his childhood physical abuse by his step-dad. Interestingly, just a few days before being presented in front of the jury, Peggy was given a plea deal which she accepted. She was convicted in 2013 on the charges of criminal assistance but always insisted that she was innocent and had nothing to do with Russel’s murder. Peggy was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

‘Circle of Deception’ revolves around this story of cold-blooded murder that took the police almost a decade to solve. Some aspects of the case are still foggy as the investigators and the people involved have different theories on the events that ultimately led to Russel’s gruesome murder.

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