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Idaho suspect in killing case now faces cannibalism charge

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 21, 2021

Associated Press

SANDPOINT, Idaho — An Idaho man accused in the September killing of a man has been charged with the additional crime of cannibalism and authorities in court documents said the suspect believed he could “cure his brain” by eating some of the victim.

The new charge was filed last week by the prosecutor in northern Idaho’s Bonner County against suspect James David Russell, 39, who already faced a first-degree murder charge, the Bonner County Daily Bee newspaper reported.

Russell was arrested Sept. 10 in the killing of David Flaget, whose body was found that day in his pickup truck after officials were called to the scene near the small town of Clark Fork. Authorities said parts of Flaget’s body were found at Russell’s home.

Russell believed that he could “heal himself by cutting off portions of flesh” to “cure his brain,” the newspaper reported, citing court documents. Authorities said some of Flaget’s remains have not yet been found.

“There’s a lot of facets we will certainly never know,” Bonner County Detective Phillip Stella told the newspaper. “It wasn’t the bloodiest crime scene, but it’s more of the psychological, ‘what the heck is going on here?”

Stella added: “It’s a walk down the dark path that we don’t see very often.”

Russell in October was found unfit to stand trial and ordered into the Idaho Security Medical Program at the Idaho State Maximum Security Institution, with a review focusing on his competency set for for Dec. 28.

A phone message seeking comment from the Bonner County Public Defender’s Office, which represents Russell, was not immediately returned on Tuesday.

Authorities didn’t state a possible motive for the killing, but Stella said Flaget had had several conflicts with Russell.

Flaget’s body was found in the passenger seat of his pickup truck with his wrists duct taped together, according to court documents.

First-degree murder in Idaho is punishable by up to life in prison with the possibility of the death penalty. A cannibalism conviction carries a maxiumum penalty of 14 years in prison.

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