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