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Idaho man charged with murder and cannibalism after body parts found in microwave

Crime Watch

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic information. Reader discretion is advised.

CLARK FORK — A northern Idaho man faces serious charges after investigators say they found a dead man’s body parts in a microwave.

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office began investigating James David Russell, 39, on Sept. 10 after finding the body of David Flaget, 70, in a rural area near Clark Fork. Russell is charged with felony first-degree murder and felony cannibalism in an amended criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

Witnesses saw the body of Flaget, the caretaker of the family’s property, in a truck and suspected Russell had killed him, according to charging documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com. When deputies arrived, they found Russell wearing gloves. He ran into a building, where a brief standoff ended with deputies taking him into custody, according to documents.

Deputies went to Flaget’s truck, where they found the body naked from the waist down positioned awkwardly in the passenger seat. In a probable cause affidavit, deputies noted duct tape bound Flaget’s wrists, and a section of his thigh and genitals were cut off and missing. It appeared the parts were removed after death.

The following day, investigators served a search warrant at Russell’s home. Inside, detectives found tissue consistent with Flaget’s missing flesh. Investigators also found blood and tissue in a bowl inside the microwave. Some of the tissue indicated heat had been applied, possibly in the microwave for one to two minutes, according to court documents.

David Flaget
David Flaget | Obituary photo

Investigators could not locate one of Flaget’s testicles, his penis and a portion of the thigh that was removed from his body. Investigators wrote in their probable cause affidavit that they believe Russell ate the missing body parts.

Witnesses report that on the day of Flaget’s killing, Russell acted agitated and recently had been having mental health issues. Court documents indicated while at a California hospital receiving psychiatric help in May, Russell reportedly told his family he wanted to “cut chunks of his skin off with a knife” to “cure his brain,” according to court documents.

Once in custody, Russell appeared to not understand his rights and made an unsolicited comment about the property being private – saying “we don’t like non-family on it,” according to court documents.

Russell has been in custody since September and was committed to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare at one point after being not fit to assist in his defense. Details of his commitment remain sealed.

A hearing to review the case’s status is scheduled for Dec. 28.

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