Ex-wife of Bill Allen's son charged in 2003 Washington murder

Ranch owner Mark Allen holds the trophy after Mine That Bird won the 135th Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 2, 2009, in Louisville, Ky.

Mark Allen, millionaire scion of former Veco CEO Bill Allen -- he of Alaska political corruption fame -- has a small but colorful role in the Seattle Weekly's complex tale of a sensational 2003 murder on a Puget Sound island. Former beauty queen Peggy Sue Thomas was charged this year with participating in the 2003 murder of a Whidbey Island man in a case that might involve insurance money. During the years the case languished, Thomas spent a time as the wife of Mark Allen, whom she met when she was a Las Vegas limo driver. In Allen's telling of their short time together, she tried to take over the operations of his New Mexico thoroughbred ranch and eventually became unbearable.

Allen says his marriage was falling apart after only a few months. "First she had her mom move in. They were a package deal. Then Peggy wanted all of her people to take over from my people-whoever her people were. That wasn't gonna happen."

Thomas had no ranching experience, Allen says. "Hell, she didn't know which end of the horse to hang a bridle on."

They began to argue, Allen says, and at times physically mix it up. "One night she pulled my shirt off me, scratched me up real good, and tried to goad me into hitting her. But I don't hit women. I got a restraining order and got her off the ranch, though her mom was still here. Then I had to get the police to come escort Mom off the property."

Thomas, through her Coupeville attorney, opted not to comment on Allen's statements.

As the divorce negotiations dragged on, Mark Allen became famous, and wealthier, as the co-owner of Mine That Bird, the unlikely 2009 Kentucky Derby winner. Allen says Thomas "played me pretty good" in the divorce negotiations; she ended up with $700,000 cash and his houseboat. And yes, Allen says, she once mentioned to him that she was being investigated in connection with a murder.

"She told me something about that once," says Allen, "about police coming and talking to her. She said they were mistaken. I said why didn't you just take a lie detector and clear yourself? She told me her attorney said not to. That never really made sense to me, if she was innocent."

Read more at the Seattle Weekly about Allen and the Thomas case, which was featured over the years on "America's Most Wanted" and NBC's "Dateline."