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Man who drowned in St. Croix River was brother of suspect in triple homicide

Emergency response employees with Washington County, St. Croix County and the city of Hudson worked to resuscitate a teenager June 6, 2017, who was later pronounced dead from an apparent drowning. Maureen McMullen / Forum News Service

HUDSON, Wis. — A 19-year-old man who drowned in the St. Croix River in Hudson on Tuesday, June 6, had been arrested in April following a triple homicide in St. Paul, though he said he was not involved and was simply trying to protect his young niece in the aftermath.

Jeffery Arkis Taylor's family is reeling after his death, said attorney Karlowba Powell. He is the second young man to die in the family in two months—police said Taylor's half brother fatally shot himself after killing the 19-year-old mother of his child, her 17-year-old sister and the young women's father.

On Tuesday, Taylor was swimming with a group of five or six friends on the beach at the end of Hudson's dike road, when he and an 18-year-old Maplewood man decided to swim out to a nearby island, said Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Taylor began having difficulty swimming, Jensen said. When the 18-year-old swam over to assist him, he too began having trouble. Others in their party were able to pull to 18-year-old to shore unconscious, where he received CPR and was revived, Jensen said.

Rescue divers recovered Taylor's body about an hour later, Jensen said. He was transported to Hudson Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"Jeffery was a very kind, caring young man," said Powell, who was representing him. "... He had a lot of dreams and aspirations."

After his arrest, Taylor reported to police that his 20-year-old half brother, Jeffrey Jemaile Taylor, told him to stay in the car when he drove them on April 7 to an apartment in the 1600 block of English Street. Jeffery A. Taylor said he heard gunshots, and then his older brother came back to the car with his 18-month-old daughter. He handed her to Jeffery A. Taylor and told him to take care of the girl.

"He was fearful for his life and hers," Powell said. "He was knocking on the doors for help. He was absolutely protecting her, wanted her to be safe."

Police found Jeffery A. Taylor hiding with the girl, who was unharmed, in a nearby shed. He was released soon after his arrest without being charged.

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