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Admitted killer of Esko man denied release from institution

A former traveling nightclub performer who admitted to murdering an Esko man and three other people in the 1980s was denied release from Wisconsin's Mendota Mental Health Institute on Friday.

Alvin Taylor
Alvin Taylor

A former traveling nightclub performer who admitted to murdering an Esko man and three other people in the 1980s was denied release from Wisconsin's Mendota Mental Health Institute on Friday.

Alvin Taylor, 65, has been committed to the facility for the past 25 years and had asked to be released, saying he was no longer a threat to society. But on Friday a Dunn County jury said no. It's the third time Taylor has been denied release.

Taylor admitted to killing Daniel Lundgren, 33, who grew up in Esko, in 1986. He also admitted killing Robert Williams of Eau Claire in 1985; James Severson, 42, of Eau Claire in 1986; and Timothy Hayden, 27, of Menomonie in 1987.

Taylor was arrested at Hayden's funeral and subsequently was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in the four slayings. He's been institutionalized ever since.

The Lundgren case was as bizarre as it was horrific. Lundgren, the manager of the Paradise Village Inn motel and Chinese Restaurant, was found in his crashed car on Nov. 29, 1986, on a rural road near his West Bend home, about 30 miles north of Milwaukee.

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Lundgren was treated in three different Wisconsin hospitals, but died 30 hours after he was found. He was buried with everyone involved assuming he had died from injuries suffered in the car accident.

But after Taylor was arrested in 1987 for the Hayden murder, he began talking about other people he had killed, including Lundgren. Lundgren's body was exhumed from the Lakeside Cemetery in Carlton County and officials confirmed that he had three .38 caliber bullets in his head.

Taylor had been Lundgren's roommate at the time and it's believed the two had some sort of fight over Lundgren wanting Taylor to move out. Authorities at the time said Taylor likely shot Lundgren in the car but that Lundgren was able to drive a short distance before losing consciousness.

While medical officials said Lundgren would have died even if doctors and others had noticed the bullet holes, it was never explained how so many medical personnel could have missed the gunshot wounds, including failing to see the three holes that showed up in an X-ray that was taken but apparently never viewed.

Taylor was eventually charged with first-degree murder in the Lundgren case but authorities in Washington County, Wis., did not challenge his mental-disease defense and did not prosecute after Taylor was committed to the Mendota facility.

Lundgren had no immediate family living in the Esko area at the time of his death. He graduated from Esko High School and worked for a time at the Potlatch paper mill in Cloquet and attended UMD before moving to San Francisco where he worked in a hospital. He then served in the U.S. Navy for seven years, leaving the service in 1988 when he moved to West Bend.

In a Dunn County courtroom in Menomonie, Wis., an attorney for Taylor said Thursday that his client is no longer on medication and hasn't had a violent outburst at institute in 25 years. Taylor once portrayed himself as a "soldier of God" who received messages over the radio and TV directing him to kill people.

Defense attorney John Kucinski said Taylor was beaten by his father when he was a boy, leading to his subsequent delusional state, adding that Taylor has used psychotherapy, songwriting and meditation to help heal himself.

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But psychologist Deborah Collins of Milwaukee testified Taylor should not be released, noting Taylor has not yet qualified for "least restrictive" status at Mendota, a level given to nonviolent mental hospital residents. She said Taylor has been diagnosed with personality disorder with anti-social and narcissistic behaviors.

"One of the most concerning (issues) about Mr. Taylor is his habit of testing limits in the institution," she said.

Dunn County District Attorney James Peterson said during closing arguments Friday that Taylor is a mass murderer and a serial killer and cannot safely be released, according to the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

"He is a very dangerous man," Peterson said. "You should recommit him to Mendota."

Taylor last sought release from Mendota in 2010. Dunn County Judge Bill Stewart rejected that request, ruling that Taylor still posed a risk to himself and others and had a delusional disorder. Taylor also sought release in 2005 before withdrawing that motion.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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