James Russell: Cannibal ate neighbor's flesh believing it would 'cure his brain'
James Russell, 39, was charged with cannibalism in the killing of his neighbor David M Flaget, 70
An Idaho man has been charged with murder and cannibalism after his 70-year-old neighbor's body was found tied up in a car outside his home as the accused believed that eating him 'would cure his brain.'
James Russell, 39, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after he was accused of killing the victim, identified as David M Flaget, according to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office in Idaho. Flaget's body was found by police after they responded to a call about a suspicious death near Clark Fork, Idaho on September 10, in the block of flats where he lived. Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall has since filed an amended criminal complaint, which charged Russell with cannibalism regarding the murder.
Pieces of Flaget's body found inside Russell's home
While searching the suspect's home the day after the murder, police found pieces of Flaget's body. Along with part of the victim, the authorities also discovered a microwave and a glass bowl that contained blood. A bloodied duffel bag and knife were also found inside the location. The investigators said that even in their line of work, they were taken aback by what they found.
Bonner County Detective Phillip Stella said: "When dealing with death and carnage it's a shock to our conscience. As far as I know, this is the first cannibalism charge in Idaho. There’s a lot of facets we will certainly never know. It wasn’t the bloodiest crime scene, but it’s more of the 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."
Russell thought he would be able to 'heal himself by cutting off portions of flesh'
According to police documents, Russell thought he would be able to "heal himself by cutting off portions of flesh and that these would cure his brain". The suspect was not screened for substances after being arrested by the police. However, the authorities said that there was evidence a clean-up kit was used to dispose of remains and other evidence after the murder. Flaget's wrists were found to be tied behind his back with tape. No traces of blood were discovered underneath the tape and it is believed Flaget may have been restrained before he was murdered. The victim was "unresponsive" inside a vehicle outside of Russell's home on September 10.
Russell was arrested following a brief stand-off with local police. He was due to stand trial in October, but that was delayed till he was evaluated by the Idaho Security Medical Program officials. The results of the evaluation were not being divulged to the public. His hearing is scheduled to take place on December 28. According to the Idaho law, cannibalism is punishable in the state with a prison sentence of up to 14 years.