June 27, 1977: The Killings at Glensheen

On this day in Duluth in 1977, Roger Caldwell, second husband of Marjorie Congdon, entered Glensheen, the Congdon estate at 3300 London Road. He was confronted on a stairway by Velma Pietila, long-time nurse to Elisabeth Congdon, who was filling in for another nurse despite her recent retirement. They struggled, and Caldwell killed Pietila by bludgeoning her with a brass candlestick. He then entered Elisabeth’s bedroom and smothered her with a pink satin pillow. The crimes would become the most notorious double murder in the history of Minnesota. Both Caldwell and Marjorie—an adopted daughter of Elisabeth—were charged with the crimes, Caldwell for murder and Marjorie for conspiracy. Caldwell was convicted of the crimes, but Marjorie was acquitted, which led to Caldwell’s release. Caldwell would later kill himself, claiming his innocence to the end. Marjorie went on to become a serial arsonist, spent time in and out of Minnesota and Arizona prisons, and is suspected of committing three other murders. Read more about the killings at Glensheen here and another murder that occurred on the same day in the same place, just 97 years earlier, here.

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

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