An Idaho man has been accused of murder and cannibalism, the latter charge being the first in the state since the practice was banned more than 30 years ago. James David Russell is said to have killed 70-year-old David M. Flaget and eaten part of his body in an attempt to “cure his brain,” the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press reports.
- Bonner County Police were called to Lower Mosquito Creek Road on September 10. Once sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Flaget upside down in the passenger seat of his truck. He was unresponsive and pronounced dead soon after. Russell allegedly ran from the scene, barricading him inside a garage loft space he was renting on the same property. Eventually, he was taken into custody.
- Russell didn’t understand his Miranda rights. Despite officers trying to read them to him repeatedly, Russell kept giving them the same response: “It’s private property and we don’t like non-family on it.”
- Russell and Flaget had been having issues for a long time. Bonner County Detective Phillip Stella said that Russell had “several conflict-like run-ins with Russell and told the family about them.” He added that Russell had given off “enough warning signs” that he “was a danger to himself or others.”
- He was only charged with murder at first. However, Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall filed an amended criminal complaint this week charging him with cannibalism as well. This came after pieces of Flaget’s body were found in Russell’s residence. There was also a “thermal artifact,” showing that head had been applied to part of Flaget’s remains.
- The evidence in Russell’s home was overwhelming. Police seized a bloodied microwave and glass bowl as well as a duffel bag and bloody knife. “When dealing with death and carnage it’s a shock to our conscience,” Detective Stella said Thursday. “As far as I know, this is the first cannibalism charge in Idaho.”
- Russell was trying to “heal himself.” A probable cause affidavit revealed that Russell thought he could “heal himself by cutting off portions of flesh” from Flaget’s body and that doing so would “cure his brain.” He’s due to appear for a review hearing on December 28.