Glensheen Mansion Murders – The Real Story

Glensheen Mansion Murders

The Glensheen Mansion Murders

Glensheen Mansion. Duluth, Minnesota…

On the night of June 26th, 1977, an intruder entered the Glensheen Mansion from a billiard room window. Encountering the night nurse on the way to Elizabeth’s bedroom, the intruder threw the nurse down the stairs and then clubbed her to death with a candlestick. The intruder found the 83-year-old owner of Glensheen Mansion, Elizabeth Congdon, in bed. Using a pink satin pillow, the intruder suffocated her.

Initially, the police had no suspects, and they thought the motive was robbery. An empty jewelry box was found on the floor of the Glensheen Mansion’s master bedroom, and the house was ransacked. A car was also stolen from the estate and found at the Minneapolis airport. However, that would soon change as police began investigating family members including Elizabeth’s adopted daughter Marjorie Congdon.

The Conviction and Confession

Roger Caldwell, the second husband of Marjorie Congdon, was convicted of the Glensheen Mansion murder. He and Marjorie had severe financial problems, and the crime was said to be motivated by greed as Marjorie stood to inherit the Congdon fortune upon her mother’s death. While Marjorie was acquitted for serving any role in the Glensheen Mansion murder, she is suspected to be the mastermind behind the crime.

Roger Caldwell’s murder sentence was later overturned by the Minnesota Supreme Court, but six years later he confessed to the murders. Caldwell was considered mentally ill, with his condition worsening, he committed suicide a short time after his confession.

Glensheen Mansion is part of Minnesota’s North Shore Audio Tour. If you like this story, please pick up a CD or MP3 download from our store.


The Crimes of Marjorie Congdon

From an early age, Marjorie Congdon had many problems and was diagnosed as a sociopath, was a compulsive liar and was even institutionalized in her early years. Marjorie continued to have trouble with the law throughout her life.

While Roger Caldwell was in prison, Marjorie befriended Wally Hagen and his wife. Hagen’s wife mysteriously died after eating Marjorie’s marmalade. The Hagen’s’ children claim Marjorie was the last person to feed their ailing mother before she died. However, she was never prosecuted for the death. She eventually married Hagen without divorcing Caldwell, and the State of North Dakota filed bigamy charges against her.

In 1985, Marjorie was given 21 months in prison for arson and insurance fraud when she attempted to burn down the family’s Mound, Minnesota home. In 1991, after she and Wally Hagen moved to Ajo, Arizona, she was accused of trying to burn her neighbor’s home down. Before reporting to prison, she was allowed to go home and make arrangements for the 84-year old Hagen. Hagen was found dead of a suspected pill overdose, but authorities later believed he was exposed to natural gas piped through a garden hose from the kitchen stove. Murder charges were filed but dropped for lack of evidence. Marjorie was eventually released on parole from the fraud charges in 2004 only to be charged with computer fraud, amongst other things, in 2007.

Glensheen Mansion Tours: What to Expect

The Glensheen Mansion is a marvel all its own and is worth seeing regardless of the intriguing lure of the mysterious murder. Don’t expect the guides to answer many questions about the Glensheen Mansion murders. In fact, until recently, the family requested that the guides discourage any inquiries about the murder, preferring that the dark event did not overshadow the family’s philanthropic history in the community and the beauty of the home. There is much talk of visitors noticing the presence of ghosts at Glensheen Mansion, but you’ll have to see for yourself as the tour guides will not broach that subject either.

Ironically, before being murdered, Elizabeth Congdon permitted the movie “You’ll Like my Mother,” staring Patty Duke, to be filmed in the house. The movie is about a young woman who goes to meet her new mother-in-law. The plot twist is that her mother-in-law has been murdered and the woman posing as her mother-in-law is the murderer!

Go To Part 1 – Glensheen Mansion: A Historic Estate

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10 Comments on "Glensheen Mansion Murders – The Real Story"

  1. Jason Hankinson
    Jul 19th, 2011

    Thank you for finally writing a good article about the glensheen mansion murders. i read several and the rest were not very good. Tahnks!

  2. Allison
    Oct 27th, 2011

    Soooo trying this tonight!

  3. Jim
    Jan 31st, 2012

    This is a crazy story! I’ve lived in Duluth my whole life, but didn’t know the details of what happened. Nice article!

  4. Teresa
    Jun 8th, 2012

    I had the pleasure of meeting Gary Waller in 2004,in Spooner Wi.He is a very interesting man and learn`t alot about the murders and the history of the Glensheen.He gave me his book,Will to murder,he and John Desanto signed it,just need the aurthor`s signature to complete it.I have also gone on many tours there,I had seen the movie that was made in the Glensheen and remembered every room that was used in the movie.I have also seen the ghosts and more then felt their presence.I believe there are many spirits the roam that house,I`ve seen the presence of alittle boy in the very top windows of the house facing the lake and the smoking room has the fresh smells of pipe tobacco,I`ve also seen a woman looking out the window of the room Elizabeth was murdered in and when in her room can smell a soft perfume.The house holds many mysteries which it fascinates me.Want to learn more.

  5. Kylee
    Feb 16th, 2013

    I just went to the mansion- it is fascinating but if you are planing on going on the expanded tour it is a little bit creepy- stay a way from the luggage closet on the third floor

  6. Char
    Aug 12th, 2013

    We just did the expanded tour of the mansion. Not creepy to us, a very beautiful home. I tried very hard to smell cigar in the smoking room, no odor. Nothing wrong with the luggage closet, just a closet with family luggage. No ghosts either. I think people’s imaginations run a little wild knowing there had been a tragedy in this family.

  7. [...] was first occupied. Very little updating has ever been done. It was a neat home to tour and has an interesting family history not mentioned on the [...]

  8. Feb 23rd, 2014

    When I was there I saw the rug on the wall moving a little

  9. Melissa
    Mar 30th, 2014

    Just toured the mansion yesterday. Absolutely beautiful! It was not creepy at all. Such a tragic ending for such a wonderful family. The architecture is amazing! No ghosts…. I recommend the expanded tour. Worth the money!

  10. Lily Lyons
    Jun 6th, 2014

    My daughter just had a field trip to Glensheen yesterday and she tried to tell me that everyone who used to live there was tiny. I’m guessing because the furniture are antiques and they are smaller than what we see today. I thought that was hilarious. On the other hand the article about the murders was very informative and helped me learn alot about what really happened instead of the rumors that you hear about. I really loved how it also told about Marjorie’s other crimes she was involved in and that she was a sociopath.

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