Accused cannibal and murderer allegedly thought flesh would 'cure his brain'

Source: Bonner County Sheriff's Office, MEGA

Dec. 18 2021, Published 9:13 a.m. ET

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A murder suspect is now accused of cannibalism and said he ate flesh to "cure his brain," according to investigators.

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Bonner County Prosecutor filed an amended criminal complaint this week charging James David Russell, 39, of cannibalism in relation to the Sept. 10 murder of David Flaget, Shoshone News-Press reported.

Pieces of Flaget’s body were found upon searching Russell’s residence the day after the murder, including a “thermal artifact,” which showed that heat had been applied to only portions of the remains, according to Shoshone News-Press.

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Some of Flaget’s remains have yet to be found, Shoshone News-Press reported.

A bloodied microwave and glass bowl were among the items seized in the search. Investigators also found bloodied knife and duffel bag, according to Shoshone News-Press.

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According to the supplemental probable cause affidavit obtained by Shoshone News-Press, Russell believed that he could “heal himself by cutting off portions of flesh” in order to “cure his brain.”

“When dealing with death and carnage it’s a shock to our conscience,” Bonner County Detective Phillip Stella said, according to Shoshone News-Press. “As far as I know this is the first cannibalism charge in Idaho.”

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On Sept. 10, sheriff’s deputies were notified of a possible murder on Lower Mosquito Creek Road, Shoshone News-Press reported.

When they arrived, they found Flaget upside down in the passenger’s seat of his truck, unresponsive, according to Shoshone News-Press.

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Russell ran away from law enforcement, barricading himself in the loft space of the garage building he resided in on the property, Shoshone News-Press reported.

After a brief stand-off, Russell was compliant with law enforcement’s commands and allowed himself to be apprehended, according to Shoshone News-Press.

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According to court documents obtained by Shoshone News-Press, Russell was unable to understand his Miranda rights after they were repeatedly read to him.

Russell made only one statement to law enforcement which he repeated more than twice: “It’s private property and we don’t like non-family on it,” according to Shoshone News-Press.

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“Flaget had several conflict-like run-ins with Russell and told the family about them,” Stella said, according to Shoshone News-Press. “The family had enough warning signs that Mr. Russell was a danger to himself or others.”

There is evidence that a clean-up kit was used to dispose of remains or other evidence after the murder, Shoshone News-Press reported.

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“There’s a lot of facets we will certainly never know,” Stella said, according to Shoshone News-Press. “It wasn’t the bloodiest crime scene, but it’s more of a psychological ‘what the heck is going on here?’ and ‘why am I picking up pieces?’ It’s a walk down the dark path that we don’t see very often.”

Court proceedings were paused in late October after a judge found Russell unfit to stand trial and ordered him to the Idaho Security Medical Program, Shoshone News-Press reported.

The results of the mental health evaluation on Oct. 5 remain under seal by court order, according to Shoshone News-Press.


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