Front Page Detectives

An Idaho Man Wanted to 'Cure His Brain." So He Killed a Caretaker Who Worked for Family and Ate the Flesh.

Source: Bonner County Sheriff's Office, MEGA

Oct. 24 2023, Published 12:03 p.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to Email

A murder suspect in Idaho accused of cannibalism said he ate flesh to "cure his brain." Now, he's spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Article continues below advertisement

James David Russell, 39, was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2021 murder of David Flaget, a 70-year-old caretaker who worked on property owned by Russell's family, KREM reported.

Pieces of Flaget’s body were found during a search of 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.

Article continues below advertisement

Some of Flaget’s remains were not located, 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.

Article continues below advertisement

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.”

Article continues below advertisement

On Sept. 10, 2021, 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.

Article continues below advertisement

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

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

Article continues below advertisement

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."

Article continues below advertisement

“Flaget had several conflict-like run-ins with Russell and told the family about them,” Detective Stella said, claiming, “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.

Article continues below advertisement

“There’s a lot of facets we will certainly never know,” Stella said at the time. “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.”

At Russell's recent sentencing, KREM reported, the judge noted the defendant had gone off his medications at the time of the murder and battled schizophrenia as well as delusion and psychoses.

"In this case, as [Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall] said, mental illness is in a way a mitigating factor, but it is also an aggravating factor," the judge said at sentecing. "Because the court has no certainty, can conceive that society can be safe unless Mr. Russell is confined, no way that Mr. Russell can be safe."


Become a Front Page Detective

Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.

More Stories

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 FRONT PAGE DETECTIVES™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. FRONT PAGE DETECTIVES is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.