Glensheen Mansion Murders – The Real Story
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.
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!