May 17, 1988: Roger Caldwell takes his own life

On this day in 1988 Roger Caldwell, the notorious second husband of Marjorie Congdon LeRoy Caldwell Hagen, committed suicide in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, by slashing his wrists with a steak knife. Caldwell had been convicted of the 1977 slayings of Elisabeth Congdon and Velma Pietila at the Glensheen estate. After Marjorie was acquitted, opening Caldwell up to an appeal, officials bargained with Caldwell: if he confesses and tells all, he would be set free. He agreed, but never implicated Marjorie, who then turned her back on him forever. Caldwell became depressed. He had maintained his innocence while in prison, and did so again after his confession. His suicide note read: “Please excuse the handwriting, but as usual my mind is clouded with booze. I would like to write each of you a note, but I am too drunk to do it, and you have all made it very clear that you don’t care. I love you all and always have. Tell Evelyn I loved her too. What you need to know is that I didn’t kill those girls or—to my knowled [sic] ever harm a soul in my life. I am truly sorry to go this way, however the pain is more than I can take. Try to find it in your hearts to forgive.” He apparently did not forgive his former wife, as his will included the statement, “I devise and bequeath to my wife Marjorie LeRoy Caldwell, also known as Marjorie Congdon Caldwell, whom I love, the sum of one dollar in recognition of her abandonment of me during my time of dire need.” Learn more about the killings at Glensheen, the investigation and trials that followed, and the notorious life of Marjorie Congdon Caldwell here.

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