The police found Israel Valles Flores bleeding on the roof and a bloodstained circular saw on the ground.
The 37-year-old roofer was only supposed to be replacing the shingles, a routine job he and three other men had been hired to do at a home just outside River Falls, Wis. But toward the end of the afternoon, about 4:20 Monday, it all went horribly wrong in just a flash.
As two of the roofers would soon tell police, their co-worker Miguel A.F. Navarro asked if Valles Flores could hand him the circular saw. Valles Flores gave it to him — and then immediately, Navarro cut Valles Flores in the neck, according to court documents cited in the Pierce County Herald. Valles Flores stumbled backward, falling onto the roof of the garage below. Navarro jumped down and kept cutting him, the criminal complaint said.
And then the workers jumped off the roof and fled as Valles Flores bled to death, according to the complaint.
The father of five from St. Louis had been sliced with the saw 10 times across his face, his neck, his back, his arms and legs, according to an autopsy report cited in the Pierce County Herald, and his jugular vein and carotid artery had been severed.
Two of the workers who witnessed the attack hid nearby until police arrived, according to the complaint. They told police there had been no argument between the men before this happened. But only on Thursday did any semblance of a possible motive become clearer.
In an interview with police, Navarro allegedly said that the other men had been teasing him because he told them he did not feel well after having unprotected sex with a woman he did not know, Fox 9 reported, citing court documents. Navarro said he was “getting really mad inside” about being teased for this, allegedly adding that he believed he was “being drugged” to work more, “didn’t feel right” and thought he wasn’t getting paid.
Navarro, also of St. Louis, was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional homicide and mayhem and is being held in the Pierce County Jail on $500,000 bond. An attorney for Navarro could not immediately be reached for comment.
Valles Flores’s sister, Maria Valles, told the St. Louis Dispatch that Navarro had actually lived with Valles Flores’s family in St. Louis, and the two had always joked around together. To Maria Valles, none of it made sense.
“I just feel sad,” she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “[Miguel’s] reaction comes from where? It comes from evil.”
Valles Flores’s death has left family grieving in both St. Louis and in Mexico, where he is originally from and where much of his family still lives, family friends told The Washington Post.
He had settled down in St. Louis with his wife and children, and to provide for them he traveled all over the Midwest, taking repair jobs wherever he was needed. Nalleli Valles, his cousin, told The Post that Valles Flores’s two other children, from a past marriage, did not live with him. Maria Valles, told Fox 9 that he had traveled to River Falls, Wis., for what was supposed to be one of his last roofing jobs with that crew.
“The last time he was [in St. Louis] was two weeks ago,” she said, “and he was so happy. He said, ‘You know what, I’m still going to be working there another couple of weeks because I found another group willing to work with me.’ ”
Esthela Meza, a friend of the family, told The Post that Valles Flores was known among his friends in St. Louis as a loving and hardworking father. She had just returned Thursday from visiting Valles Flores’s wife and daughters at home to pay her respects. “I think all the community support is what’s helping them,” she said.
Friends planned a karaoke-night fundraiser at a Mexican restaurant where Valles Flores and his friends liked to go, and all of the proceeds are intended to go toward Valles Flores’s family to help pay for a funeral and for transporting his body from Wisconsin, she said.
His family, Meza said, wants to bring him home to Mexico.
“My mother is waiting for him in Mexico,” Maria Valles told Fox 9. “How are we going to handle this pain?”
Samantha Schmidt contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Israel Valles Flores had three children. He has five, including two from a past marriage, a family member said.
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