July 11, 1978: Marjorie Caldwell is arrested and charged with two counts of murder

On this day in Duluth in 1978, Duluth police arrested Marjorie Congdon Caldwell on charges of two counts of murder in the first degree and two counts conspiracy to commit murder. It was the day after her husband, Roger Sipe Caldwell, began serving two life sentences for the murder of Marjorie’s adoptive mother Elisabeth Congdon and nurse Velma Pietila at Glensheen, Duluth’s  historic Congdon estate. Marjorie Caldwell was living in Colorado at the time. When advised that charges were being brought, her attorney Ron Meshbesher advised her to travel to Duluth and turn herself in. According to author Gail Feichtinger, “Upon arrival in Duluth, Marjorie surrendered to St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies. During booking she underwent a strip search. Officer Donetta Wickstrom saw that Marjorie had scars all over her body—they were from the body tucks she’d gotten during Roger’s trial. When Wickstrom asked about them, Marjorie claimed she’d had lymphatic cancer. Wickstrom also asked for a handwriting sample, which Marjorie voluntarily provided. When Meshbesher found out about the handwriting sample he asked for it back; Wickstrom refused. The sample helped police confirm it was Marjorie’s writing on the so-called murder contract. Marjorie was arraigned at about 10 a.m. before St. Louis County Court Judge David Bouschor. The defendant, wearing a navy blue pantsuit, large round sunglasses, and short, straight hair with ragged bangs, appeared relaxed and unconcerned. She kept whispering to Meshbesher throughout the proceedings. When asked for her correct age, forty-seven-year-old Marjorie lied, saying she was two years younger than the date listed on her birth certificate.” Read more about the murders, trials, and Marjorie Caldwell’s life as an arsonist and prison inmate here.

Marjorie Congdon’s mug shot from her 1991 arrest for arson in Ajo, Arizona. (Image: Pima County Sheriff’s Office)