On September 10, 2021, James David Russell killed David Flaget, 70. He then microwaved parts of his body and ate them.
Leading to the 911 Call
The morning of September 10, 2021, Elizabeth Russell noticed a pickup truck, who she thought was David Flaget’s, parked in an unusual spot. David was the caretaker of the property and had a space where he normally parked. Elizabeth asked her nephew James Russell about the truck. He told Elizabeth that it was not his, pick up a bag, and walked away.
Around 11:00 a.m. on Mark Russell, Elizabeth’s brother showed up at his family’s house. Mark had planned on fixing an internet issue and then going to do some work in the mines his family owned. When Mark tried to enter the area in the garage where the family’s internet hub was, he found Russell barricaded inside. Elizabeth and Mark eventually got the door open, and Russell was becoming aggressive and stated he didn’t know who Mark was, even though they had known each other for years. Russell calmed down and eventually sent Mark an apology text, who went to work in the mines.
Around 3:45 p.m. on September 10, 2022, Elizabeth decided to look in the truck and saw what she believed to be a body she assumed was David, wrapped in plastic. Elizabeth immediately got her mother and moved her away from the house. She then went to go get Mark, who was working in the family’s mine, to tell him what she saw.
Mark called the police at 4:15 p.m.
Police responded to the call to investigate a homicide on Mark and Elizabeth’s property at 168 Lower Mosquito Creek Road, Clark Fork, Idaho.
When they arrived, they were told that Russell may have been responsible. Police located Russell close to the property. After a short foot pursuit, Russell was detained and brought in for questioning.
Police then focused on the pickup truck, which was locked, and had no keys. They broke the driver’s window to gain access and found a deceased male who would later be positively identified as David Flaget.
David was found naked from the waist down. His left wrist was still bound with duct tape. He had obvious trauma to his body. According to court documents, “evidence of post-mortem mayhem was present along the right thing, anus, and genitalia.” There was a portion of flesh missing from David’s right thigh, which was 4 inches wide and 10 inches long. Court documents state “Flaget’s entire penis scrotum and testicles were carved out from the base of the anus to the top of the pelvic mound.”
David’s body was taken in for autopsy and police obtained search warrants for the property.
According to police reports, investigators found “suspected human flesh, latex gloves, bloody newspaper, bloody pieces of duct tape, cutting implements with suspected blood, and several areas of blood,” in the initial report.
When police search Russell’s residence, they found portions of the removed flesh outside, underneath a window. They never recovered his penis, one testicle, a portion of the scrotum, and a piece of thigh. According to the medical examiner, the recovered flesh showed “thermal artifact.” The court documents explain that “thermal artifact means that heat had been applied to that particular piece of tissue and not the entire body.” Though the medical examiner could not be certain, they believed a microwaved caused the heat damage.
Police believe David was killed by trauma to the head and neck. Russell then cut portions of him, put them in a glass bowl, which he then microwaved. According to Russell’s mental health history, he believed that eating human flesh would heal him.
Russell was committed to a mental facility for 6 months. In April 2022, Russell had a competency hearing to see if he is fit to stand trial. He has been deemed fit to stand trial and is awaiting a trial date.
Russell has been charged with first degree murder and cannibalism and is being held on $5 million bond.