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Top 10: Routine River Falls roofing job became deadly crime scene

Miguel A. Navarro is led out of court Sept. 5 after he pleaded not guilty to a homicide charge in Pierce County. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia

Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.

A seemingly common roofing project turned into a gruesome death scene in August at a rural River Falls home.

Pierce County prosecutors allege one roofer attacked another with a circular saw while they were atop a home on County Road FF in the town of River Falls. The victim, identified by authorities as 37-year-old St. Louis, Mo., resident Israel Valles-Flores, died Aug. 6 on the rooftop after first responders tried unsuccessfully to save him.

Pierce County prosecutors allege the killer was fellow St. Louis resident Miguel A. Navarro, a 22-year-old coworker of Flores'. Navarro, 25, pleaded not guilty in September to first-degree intentional homicide and mayhem.

The case is headed toward a six-day trial set to begin May 31 in Pierce County Circuit Court. Navarro remains in Pierce County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.

A criminal complaint states jailers listened to a recorded call Navarro made after being arrested. During the call, he told someone he had slept with a woman the previous night and woke up feeling ill. The other roofers, including Flores, teased him the next day because the woman was a stranger and they connected the sexual encounter to his sickness, the complaint states Navarro indicated in the call.

The teasing left him "really mad inside," according to the complaint, but Navarro allegedly listed other possibilities in the jailhouse call. He also suspected he was being drugged to work more and said "it" happened because he wasn't being paid, according to the complaint.

The charging document states there was no confrontation between the men before the alleged attack. Two other workers on the job leapt from the roof for fear that Navarro would come for them next, according to the account one of the men gave police.

Navarro's next court appearance is a Jan. 28 status conference in advance of a March 6 motion hearing.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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