July 5, 1983: Roger Caldwell pleads guilty of murder, makes confession, and is set free 

On this day in 1983, in accordance with a plea negotiation arrangement, Roger Caldwell pled guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, made a full confession, and was released from his previous conviction for double murder. He had been sentenced to life in prison for the June 27, 1977, Duluth murders of Elisabeth Congdon and Velma Pietila at Duluth’s historic Glensheen estate. After Caldwell’s wife Marjorie Congdon Caldwell was acquitted of conspiracy in the murders, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned his convictions on two counts of murder in the first degree because of evidence presented in Marjorie’s trial. He was to stand trial again, and St. Louis County wanted to avoid the expense of another trial they likely would not win. So officials offered Caldwell the plea deal hoping he would implicate Marjorie. His confession provided officials with no new information. Caldwell killed himself five years later, claiming his innocence to the end. In 2003, DNA evidence reported in the book Will to Murder verified that Caldwell was in the mansion when the murders took place.

Roger Caldwell’s 1977 mug shot, taken after he was arrested for the murders of Velma Pietila and Elisabeth Congdon. (Image: John DeSanto)caldwell