ELLSWORTH, Wis. • A roofer accused of killing a co-worker with a circular saw in western Wisconsin said he was being teased and thought he was being drugged, according to a criminal complaint.
Miguel Navarro, 24, of St. Louis, was charged Thursday in Pierce County court with first-degree intentional homicide and mayhem, both felonies, in the death of Israel Valles-Flores, 37, also of St. Louis.
According to the complaint, Navarro was seen attacking Valles-Flores with a circular saw while on a home’s roof near River Falls. The victim ended up on the garage roof, where he died of his injuries.
A witness said Navarro continued cutting Valles-Flores after the victim fell backward on to the garage roof, according to the complaint.
A witness said Valles-Flores handed the saw to Navarro, who immediately cut into the victim’s neck. A bloody circular saw was found on the ground.
Maria Valles, a sister of Valles-Flores, said her brother had known Navarro for several years and Navarro had lived with Valles-Flores’ family in their St. Louis home.
“I just feel sad,” Valle said. “(Miguel’s) reaction comes from where? It comes from evil.”
During a recorded jail call, Navarro said the other workers, including Valles-Flores, were teasing him because he wasn’t feeling well after having sex. There was no apparent argument before the attack.
Navarro was mad about being teased and “he was getting really mad inside,” the complaint said. He also thought he was being drugged, perhaps to work more, and was not getting paid, according to the complaint.
Valles said she’s baffled by this explanation because Navarro and Valles-Flores would tease and joke with each other on a regular basis. She described Navarro as quiet and shy, but friendly.
Valles-Flores was working with the roofing crew in Wisconsin to save money to move his family back to Mexico, she said.
“(Valles-Flores) was the best brother,” Valles said. “He was the best husband. He provided for his family and worked so hard to get everything together. He didn’t care how far he had to go to provide for them.”
After the attack, a witness heard Navarro calling for him as he ran away and was afraid Navarro was going to hurt him, the complaint said.
An autopsy found Valles-Flores had 10 sharp force injuries, including to his face, neck and back. The jugular vein and carotid artery in his neck were both cut.
Valles said the entire situation seems almost unbelievable to her. She said her family hasn’t been allowed to see her brother’s body. Even if they can’t see his face, she said, they could identify him by his tattoos, “to make sure that’s him.”
Online court records show Navarro appeared in court by video conference from jail with his attorney Thursday. Cash bail was set at $500,000, and a hearing is scheduled Monday for Navarro, who remains in jail.
Valles-Flores’ wife and sister aren’t sure what they’ll do without him.
“No hay palabras,” said his wife, Viviana Serrano. Translated, it means: There are no words.
Rachel Rice of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.