By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Lundquist may be a pathological liar, but he came by his pathology honestly. "James has always had a hard life," his mother, Robin Lynn, told the judge when he was sentenced. "I have a diagnosed mental illness and he's had to live with me. He's endured more than you can imagine."
Lynn told of occasions when she hallucinated monsters in the house, and stabbed at them with a butcher knife while James huddled in a corner weeping. "He had a friend bring a knife to the house and he hid it under the bed, he was so scared," said Lynn.
She claimed she begged Hennepin County to remove James from her home, but was turned down. She arranged to have him stay with a family in rural Becker, but the deal broke down because Hennepin County wouldn't pay for foster care. She took him back home when the county promised there would be further care for him.
According to Lynn, the effort was pathetically inadequate. "They sent a man over one hour a week to take him out for dinner while his mom [was] going crazy," she said.
Lundquist's entire elementary education was spent in classes for the learning-disabled. He is virtually illiterate. At age 13 he was caught carrying a knife on a school field trip and threatened to stab the girl who told on him. A few months later he tried to extort some cash from a young woman at a University of Minnesota bus stop. When she refused, he threw a cup of his own urine at her. He received probation for that offense, violated it several times, was arrested for fifth-degree assault and criminal damage to property, and was finally sentenced to the County Home School. He broke out and ran away after assaulting a custodial officer.
"He went to live with a dope man," says his mother. "I told them where he was, but nobody seemed to want to pick him up. They finally got him after a week and he was a mess, all scratched up and dirty." Lundquist was committed to a treatment center in Iowa after that escapade, but was expelled a year later for possessing a knife. He came home in November 1996.
"When they told me about the knife," says Lynn, "I knew it was bad news. When James starts messing with drugs, then he starts having paranoia and that's when the weapons start coming in. I told [treatment center staff] I was still living in the same place and he'd be around the same people, and they said, 'Well this is our rules. He has to leave.'"
Lundquist and the buddies he hung out with after his return liked to steal cars and go on joyrides. They ranged as far as eastern Wisconsin, and up I-94 to Wright County.
On the evening of July 26, less than a week before MacPhee was killed, Lundquist, his friend Tony Nadeau, and a juvenile named Billy were driving on a rural highway near St. Michael when the car overheated. There was a house nearby, with two boys about their age standing in front. As they sat in the car waiting for the engine to cool off they took a notion to rob them. "It was like, you know, la-de-de-de-da, why not," Lundquist told Wright County investigators Robert Kammer and Gary Reitan in a transcribed interview.
The officers asked him whether he was high at the time of the robbery. "I smoked a blunt with some angel dust in it while we were driving around," he replied, "and some PCP, heroin, whatever. Billy done some drugs too. Tony was just drunk, though.
"Billy was like, wanna hold this place up? You know, mess with 'em because they're all vulnerable. I was like, it don't matter. We were just sitting there whispering about it, and they were standing in front, and Billy was like, 'C'mon, let's do it.' So we did."
The threesome approached the boys, Billy with his .22 pistol in hand and Lundquist brandishing his laser-sighted 9 mm. He put the dot on one of the kids' foreheads. "Don't get scared or nothing," he said.
They went inside. There was beer in the refrigerator and snacks on a table. The boys told them that a party was scheduled to start soon. Lundquist made a few wisecracks because he could see the victims were frightened. "I just joked with 'em," he told the investigators, "but Billy, he must've panicked or something because he shot off his gun into the ceiling."
It was a liquid moment. The victims were scared and Billy was shaky and drugged up, but Lundquist managed to defuse the situation. He told one of the boys to find some speaker wire so he could tie their hands. They complied. The robbers helped themselves to some beer, gave their victims each a can, and loosened the wire so they could drink it.
Pretty soon they were talking like old buddies. The phone rang. Lundquist answered. It was a girl, wondering about the party. "Come on out," he told her. "Not right away or nothing. But soon."