Her life at Glensheen ended abruptly on June 27, 1977, when the ailing, 83-year-old heiress was killed in the mansion along with her night nurse, Velma Pietila, 67. The third shift nurse was supposed to chain and bolt the front door and Conger would unlock it on her morning rounds. A gift of $17 makes a difference. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. A portrait of Chester Congdon looks over visitors to the Glensheen Mansion's library on Wednesday. May 12, 2017. In the room police found a jewelry box and a wicker basket. Pietila’s purse was on the bed, looking as though it had been gone through. It was a clear case of arson, and five people from Marlborough were duly convicted of the crime. Explore the mansion digitally with a guide. Velma Pietila had been a nurse since 1933 and had spent the last seven years working at Glensheen. Marjorie’s case began right after her husband's conviction. The nurse working that day was Mildred Klosowsky. It became kind of obvious that the jurors were thinking, boy I don't think this lady would kill her mother.". Marjorie Caldwell served two prison terms for arson, and she's been linked to several mysterious deaths. The victims' families "were really hopeful that we would not have to retry the case with a chance of Roger walking free," DeSanto said. Also noted was a tattoo-like pattern of wounds to her face, forearm and finger. Less than five years later, he committed suicide on May 17, 1988 by slitting his wrists with a steak knife in his apartment. On receiving this news, Roger Caldwell appealed his conviction due to the lack of evidence presented at his wife’s trial. Rather than risk an acquittal or a hung jury, officials struck a deal with Caldwell, allowing him to plead guilty to two, John Wayne Gacy Confessed to Killing Dozens (December 22, 1978). On that last Sunday of her life, June 26, 1977, Elisabeth Congdon, who had suffered a severe stroke 12 years prior and required around the clock care, arrived at her family’s estate known as Glensheen. Police learned of the serious money problems the couple had. "We always believed, and the whole theory of the case was, that she was the woman behind the man," DeSanto said. Feichtinger was born in Stamford, Connecticut, studied journalism at Southern Methodist University and received a B.A. Is it a real haunting, or is it just an urban legend? One of the first things Waller found strange was the lack of security. While the dogs and some police were searching the grounds, Detective Waller began the difficult task of photographing the bodies and processing evidence. See more ideas about glensheen, glensheen mansion, mansions. When he came across the body of Velma Pietila, he could see she had been beaten to death. … In the late 1960s, the Congdon family decided to donate the estate to the University of Minnesota Duluth, although not until Elizabeth died. "Someone breaks into a 39-room mansion and killed the nurse on the grand stairway," with a candlestick, recalled Joe Kimball, a reporter with the Minneapolis Tribune who covered the murders. It's one of the most popular attractions in Minnesota, but Glensheen Mansion has a darker past than most historic homes you'll find in America. There was a strict routine followed by staff when it came time for locking and unlocking doors and windows. Marjorie and her husband Roger Caldwell were at the top of the list. A police German Shepard was brought in and upon searching the mansion, police discovered what they suspected to be the intruder's point of entry. Though one of the suspects was convicted, and later signed a confession, some elements of the crime remain mysterious, and it has persisted as a source of continued fascination. Roger’s trial began on May, 9, 1978. The same bag that was found in Roger and Marjorie’s Holiday Inn room. You make MPR News possible. Buy a membership, get a 2nd year free. Thinking Pietila must have forgotten, Conger continued on. Wyness told him no. Hotels near Glensheen, The Historic Congdon Estate: (0.80 mi) A G Thomson House Bed and Breakfast (1.08 mi) The Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek Bed and Breakfast (1.11 mi) Beacon Pointe on Lake Superior (2.41 mi) Fitger's Inn (0.96 mi) Cotton Mansion; View all hotels near Glensheen, The Historic Congdon Estate on Tripadvisor This was presented as evidence as well. The more he dug, the more interested he became in Marjorie and Roger Caldwell. The 39-room mansion and estate on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth will be forever associated with the shocking events of June 27, 1977, when mining heiress Elizabeth Congdon was smothered in her bed and her night nurse Velma Pietila was … At the time of questioning, Waller also observed Roger Caldwell’s right hand was swollen and he had a cut on his lip. He became shaky and almost passed out before finally going to the hospital. As of September 1, 1998 she was serving time for arson in New Mexico. As usual, she returned on Sunday night to Duluth. Roger Caldwell, when he was arrested for the murders of heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, in St. Louis County, on July 8, 1977. There were many small pieces of evidence scattered about the stairs that included hair, blood stains and broken teeth. See more ideas about glensheen mansion, glensheen, duluth. Loren told Grams he “pleaded with her not to go,” but her mind was made up and she left at 10:45 p.m. If you politely ask any of the Glensheen Mansion staff about the murders, however, they will tastefully speak about the matter and share details from that tragic night. Loren Pietila, Velma Pietila’s husband, arrived at Glensheen and wanted to know what happened to his wife. Garvue was able to see Pietila’s face was covered in dried blood, her jaw also appeared broken. "So they said, 'Do what you gotta do.'". The historic home, completed by the Congdon family in 1908, is perched on the shore of Lake Superior and was the backdrop of a new “Hitchcockian” psychological thriller called "Girl Missing", starring Clint Eastwood's daughter, Francesca Eastwood. Unable to hold the cards as a result of the stroke, Elisabeth used a special board that was made for her. Aside from its architectural significance, Glensheen is noteworthy for the murders of Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, on June 27, 1977. During the time of her autopsy, police learned the small puncture wounds on Pietila’s face, forearm and finger most likely was caused by nails. "It really was like a house in a time capsule.". Biography. An additional note: The History Theatre musical, "Glensheen" is on stage starting July 6 and runs through July 30, 2017. Caldwell was paroled on July 5, 1983, after serving five years in prison. Marjorie was found not guilty of murder. Apr 29, 2020 - Photos and videos of the Glensheen mansion in the past. Marjorie was found not guilty of murder. See more ideas about glensheen mansion, glensheen, duluth. With help of Twin City authorities, Waller was able to get a search warrant to search the Caldwell’s room. Police were sent to the airport and after a brief search, the abandon car was found in the parking lot. After helping move Elisabeth into the house and laying her down on a sofa, she returned to the car to unload two suitcase wicker baskets. When Nurse Mildred Garvue arrived shortly before 7 a.m., she went to the pantry’s refrigerator to get Elisabeth’s insulin. Dresser drawers had been pulled out and empty jewelry boxes lay on the floor. Update: 2019-01-02. Kucera told him there was no need for paramedics and it was a double homicide. With the death of Elisabeth, the Glensheen estate, which includes the 39-room mansion, carriage house, boathouse, and gardener’s cottage, was left to the University of Minnesota and has remained largely intact, down to the unopened house-canned jars of pickles in the basement. Roger, still out of it when he was told, just rolled his eyes, shook his head and went back to sleep. It was the last time she would see Elisabeth Congdon or Velma Pietila alive. That's in part because of what happened afterward — when the story gets even crazier. Police arrest Roger Caldwell and charge him with committing the murders, allegedly to speed the collection of his wife’s hefty share of the inheritance. The one corner of the pillow that covered Elisabeth Congdon’s face was still crumpled from where the killer held it in place. Making note of the bloody brass candlestick, Waller, being careful where he stepped, walked up to Elisabeth Congdon’s bedroom. Being from Minnesota, I am beyond the story of the murders. Sometime later, the quiet night was interrupted and Velma was in the fight for her life. Elisabeth Congdon, the owner spent winters in Tuscon so the film crew filmed during that time period. "Then went upstairs and smothered the 83-year-old heiress in her bed with a satin pillow.". Glensheen director Dan Hartman estimated it at 8 … The 83-year-old heiress was smothered in her sleep with a pillow-case. Police found fresh tracks along the lakes edge and some trash. Portraits of Chester and Clara ... he built the Glensheen Mansion in 1909. Police had to work at a slow pace to make sure they did not miss the slightest clue that could lead to the killer. Marjorie was released from prison in 2004. Glensheen, the Historic Congdon Estate is a 20,000 square foot mansion in Duluth, Minnesota, United States, operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth as a historic house museum.Glensheen sits on 12 acres of waterfront property on Lake Superior, has 39 rooms and is built in the Jacobean architectural tradition, inspired by the Beaux-Arts styles of the era. "It was clear she was then on a path to wanting to speed up her inheritance," said DeSanto, who's a judge now and co-author of a book on the case, "Will to Murder.". The letter was sent from Duluth on June 27, in Roger’s own handwriting. Also available from Amazon, With the purpose of writing about true crime in an authoritative, fact-based manner, veteran journalists J. J. Maloney and J. Patrick O’Connor launched Crime Magazine in November of 1998. Chester Adgate Congdon and his wife Clara has come to their fortune through mining and land investment. Blood money: The grisly murders at Duluth's Glensheen mansion Friday, December 7, 2018 by Hannah Jones in News. He also observed the bruise on her left forearm and concluded she must have put up a fight with the killer. In the mean time they stayed in the Twin Cities at a Holiday Inn. Elisabeth had spent the weekend at her summer home on the Brule River in Wisconsin, just like she did every weekend. Hearing this information got Detective Waller’s attention and he began to investigate further. Biography. The treating doctor found high levels of valium in Roger’s blood stream. Detective Waller found bloodstains on the door jamb and many faint spots of blood in the sink and on the tiled floor. Elisabeth Congdon laid face up with her bare legs exposed and the sheets pulled back. By Joe Kimball. Klosowsky left Elisabeth’s bedroom and went to the nurse’s room to watch for the oncoming night nurse, Velma Pietila. Kucera left Elisabeth’s room and went back down the stairs. Fearing the killer could still be in the house, the two women, side by side, walked toward the phone. A diving bell was lifted from water and debris inside the boathouse at Duluth's Glensheen Mansion on Thursday, July 11, 2019. He had received a call from someone at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport saying the car keys were found by a maintenance worker in a garbage can. Glensheen had no electronic security system nor was there any security living on the estate. ", "I went on one of the early tours," he said, "and one of the first things the guide said, was, 'when Ms. Congdon passed away, she willed the estate to the university.' The next day, DeSanto charged Marjorie with conspiring to kill her mother. DeSanto charged Roger Caldwell first. He remembered his wife telling him that during the argument, Marjorie had grabbed Velma by the wrist and would not let go. Around 5 p.m. Elisabeth awoke from her short nap and asked her nurse to play a game of cards. Though no direct evidence linked her son-in-law to the crime, circumstantial evidence -- the $8 million his wife would inherit -- made him the … She encountered the cook, Prudence Rennquist, getting Elisabeth’s tray ready. ", "Because the family didn't want to go back to a murder scene," he explained. Today we’ll work on remembering Glensheen Historic Estate, better known as Glensheen Mansion. Around 10 p.m. Nurse Klosowsky wheeled Elisabeth onto the elevator that took her to the second floor, where her bedroom was located. Elisabeth Congdon, the owner spent winters in Tuscon so the film crew filmed during that time period. She had actually retired the month before and was looking forward to playing golf, traveling and spending more time with her husband. The grotesque story is nonetheless a true one that unfolded almost 40 years ago now: Duluth’s Glensheen murders, an atrocity that riveted the region for years. After settling in to the nurses room, Pietila propped open the window with her thermos and read her book. Fearing the worst, he had to wait until Inspector Grams broke the news to him. After some small talk and discussing the day’s events, Nurse Klosowsky left for the night. When Elisabeth saw the movie at the Duluth premiere she was surpised at the dark tone. Another police dog that was on-scene picked up a scent trail from the back porch with the broken window and followed it down to the lake. Murder at Glensheen Mansion. See more ideas about glensheen, glensheen mansion, mansions. Glensheen Mansion was constructed in 1905 by the Lake Superior in Duluth, It was the brainchild of then wealthiest man in Minnesota, Chester Adgate Congdon. Goldschmidt also made note of some hemorrhaging in Congdon’s eyes. Upon arrival he made contact with Glensheen’s gardener, Robert Wyness, who was outside working by the garage. Police searched the car and some blood was found on the floor near the gas pedal. The blood being wiped from the killer to Elisabeth Congdon as she fought her murderer. She also was the only one of the seven children to live in her family’s 39 room Duluth mansion, located on the shores of Lake Superior, her whole adult life. In the afternoon of June 27, Detective Waller received a call from Loren Pietila again. A few feet away stood a bloodied brass candlestick. Klosowsky recalled looking at her watch, it was 11:05 p.m. Pietila agreed since she missed Elisabeth, despite her husband’s objections to her working that night. Police concluded she had been beaten with her own shoe. And I whispered to the guide, 'You know she was brutally murdered, right?'". When Goldschmidt finished making examinations of the bodies, they were removed and taken to a local hospital for autopsy. I adore the Glensheen mansion as well as the Bed and Breakfast named, The Mansion. The murders of heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse were far from perfect. 40 years later, Hartman said the murders are still fresh and raw for members of the Congdon family, some of whom sit on the museum's board. Leaving Congdon’s room, Waller and the Inspector went across the hall to the nurse’s room. Elisabeth had out lived her brothers and sisters and therefore had control over the famous Congdon fortune. from Carleton College, and … Jul 7, 2016 - Explore Deanna's board "Glensheen Mansion", followed by 314 people on Pinterest. They called police and reported the murders. Cold Spots: Glensheen Mansion by Steve Barton April 1, 2009, 12:58 pm 2k Views Duluth, MN – The newspaper headlines read like a tale from a dime-store detective novel. 005 Glensheen Mansion Murders Part 3. But even today, guides don't discuss the murder during tours, although they will answer questions after, explained Glensheen Director Dan Hartman. Evidence was also found in Caldwell's Duluth hotel room. Finding no pulse, he continued up the stairs to Elisabeth’s room. The murders of heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse were far from perfect. 40 years later, Glensheen murders still grip Duluth, Glensheen, home museums rethink rules to lure visitors. This time he told police that his wife’s car had been stolen. The county medical examiner, Dr. Goldschmidt, arrived around 8:45 a.m. and examined Velma Pietila’s body first. Jun 12, 2015 - by Cal Schoonover. Detective Gary Waller arrived at Glensheen just after 8 a.m. and after parking his car he proceeded to the mansion’s front door. Covering Elisabeth’s face was a pink blood-flecked satin pillow. Glensheen at the time was owned by the Congdon family. And a witness from the first trial changed her story to say she saw Roger elsewhere the day of the murder. Learn More. From Will to Murder: The True Story behind the Crimes and Trials Surrounding the Glensheen Killings by Gail Feichtinger, John DeSanto, and Gary Waller (Zenith City Press, 2003). We don't really hide from it, but it's definitely not our number one marketing message to get out there.". With the death of Elisabeth, the Glensheen estate, which includes the 39-room mansion, carriage house, boathouse, and gardener’s cottage, was left to the University of Minnesota and has remained largely intact, down to the unopened house … Rather than risk an acquittal or a hung jury, officials struck a deal with Caldwell, allowing him to plead guilty to two counts of second degree murder. Grams gave Waller a quick rundown of what has been found and a description of the two bodies. On June 27, 1977, the aged heiress to a vast mining fortune is killed along with her night nurse at Glensheen, a posh mansion perched on the Lake Superior coast. Her left arm appeared bruised and her gold watch and diamond-sapphire ring were gone. That night she was asked to fill in for the night nurse, who needed the night off. Photo courtesy of Glensheen Manor. They found a receipt from the day of the murders from the Twin Cities Airport gift shop for a suede suit bag. Duluth officials were outraged by the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision, but knew they lacked hard evidence. The mansion … When asked if he knew of any enemies his wife may have had, he said he was not sure. He noted she was beaten almost beyond recognition. For authorities, the case that would become the notorious Glensheen murders began on a warm, muggy summer morning. Conger however, found the front door already unlocked. Nurse Klosowsky helped Elisabeth into bed, opened a window, then removed her hearing aid and unplugged the phone. Glensheen Mansion Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and said to be haunted. Elisabeth Congdon’s funeral was to be held at Glensheen on Thursday June, 30. At first she thought Pietila had fallen down the steps, but upon a closer look she could see things were much worse. And they ended up acquitting her. Why don't Glensheen tours focus on the murders? She was a well-kept person for someone her age and she prided herself in her appearance. Very little focus on the murders. By then another police officer had arrived. Drupal theme by ThemeSnap.com. University of Minnesota officials, who now own the Congdon Mansion under the terms of Miss Congdon’s will, … Glensheen, built just northeast of downtown Duluth in 1909, was the audacious symbol of Congdon's wealth and made the murders that much more intriguing. Elisabeth herself was rather plain and did not flaunt her wealth. On receiving this news, Roger Caldwell appealed his conviction due to the lack of evidence presented at his wife’s trial. Roger’s fingerprints were nowhere to be found in Glensheen. It was Marjorie, who stood to inherit $8 million after her mother died. Kucera then went to the mansion’s front door where he was met by Conger and Garvue. Justice on Fire is OConnor’s detailed account of the terrible explosion that led to the firefighters’ deaths and the terrible injustice that followed. And he said it's too grisly to discuss on tours with families. I've adored Glensheen since I was a child when my father would tell me the ghost story of the murder driving up to the Northshore and then as a young woman when I took the tour with friends. After police learned of the Caldwell's financial troubles and the constant begging for money by the two, Marjorie and Roger became prime suspects. But for veteran crime writer and crusading editor J. Patrick O’Connor, the facts—or a lack of them—didn’t add up. Police Officer Chris Kucera was the first to reach the Congdon estate at 7:03 a.m. Turing his attention to the bedroom, Detective Waller looked around for clues. "She brought a birthday cake in for one of the lawyers one day. Pietila arrived at Glensheen shortly before 11 p.m. and parked her car near the mansion's front door. Duluth officials were outraged by the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision, but knew they lacked hard evidence. There is another book that features many pictures and much history. Dr. Goldschmidt went to examine the body of Elisabeth Congdon. Roger confessed to the murders, but was freed after serving just over five years in jail. The court granted him a new trial. That's when Kimball decided to write a book about the case, "Secrets of the Congdon Mansion. July 15, 1977. A tour guide shares historical facts and interesting details about the mansion and Congdon family. The mystery became a media sensation. Finding this strange, Waller made note the scene looked more staged rather than an actual robbery. Before the body of Velma Pietila was removed, next to her body police found what appeared to be hair next to her hand. Officer Kucera asked if he was the one who called for help. Roger Caldwell, the second husband of Elisabeth's adopted daughter, Marjorie Congdon LeRoy Caldwell Hagen, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and received two life sentences. “Velma’s dead; Miss Elisabeth’s been murdered,” Garvue said in a panic. He made note of the dark nylon stocking tied tightly around Pietila’s left wrist. "The big mystery still is, did Roger do it alone or with someone else there, and how involved if at all was Marjorie? The night of June 27, 1977, Roger broke into Glensheen to burgle the 39-room mansion on Lake Superior that belonged to Marjorie’s mother, 83-year-old Duluth heiress Elisabeth Congdon. On the stair case police found Pietila’s broken shoe that had nails sticking out. Forty years ago, an elderly, ailing Duluth heiress was smothered in her bed with a satin pillow and her nurse bludgeoned to death with a candlestick holder on … He made note of the dresser in the room having all its drawers pulled out the same length. The murder at the Glensheen Mansion remains one of Minnesota's most well-known mysteries. Illustration by Anthony Peruzzo. The fight had been over treatment of Elisabeth Congdon. It was 4:30 p.m. There were also empty jewelry boxes scattered on the floor. All 12 jurors found Roger Caldwell guilty, and sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences. He was found guilty and given two life sentences. Follow Us. For authorities, the case that would become the notorious Glensheen murders began on a warm, muggy summer morning. Bruises on her left arm from where her attacker held her down were also noticed. This was now two years after the murders and, as Kimball recalled, two new developments hurt the prosecution. Elisabeth Congdon was born to mining magnate Chester Adgate Congdon, and his wife, Clara Hesperia Bannister Congdon on April 22, 1894 in Duluth, Saint Louis County, Minnesota, USA.In 1905, Chester began building Glensheen Historic Estate, a 39-room mansion on their 22-acre (89,000 m 2) estate in Duluth, Minnesota, seeing it finished 3 years later. Attached to the nurse’s room was a bathroom. Donate today. Blood money: The grisly murders at Duluth's Glensheen mansion Friday, December 7, 2018 by Hannah Jones in News. An expert disputed a fingerprint that linked Roger to the crime. In 2005, the museum reversed course. ... Glensheen was the site of the murders of heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, on June 27, 1977. To see a PDF of all of Glensheen’s tour options and pricing, CLICK HERE. On July 5, 1977, Roger Caldwell had become ill after eating and having a few drinks with his wife. Their goal was to cover all aspects of true crime: Read More, Contents Copyright © 1998-2020 by Crime Magazine | J. Patrick O'Connor Editor | E-mail CrimeMagazine.com, Designed by Orman. One of the first people to be interviewed was Loren Pietila. Photo courtesy of Glensheen Manor. In a plea bargain, the remainder of Roger’s prison sentence was dismissed as authorities hoped his confession would implicate Marjorie—though that didn’t turn out to be the case. Description. For this he was able to evade life imprisonment and be eligible for parole. The next morning, just before 7 a.m. Hazel Conger began making her normal rounds. He recalled an argument his wife had had with Elisabeth Congdon’s adopted daughter Marjorie. Jul 7, 2016 - Explore Deanna's board "Glensheen Mansion", followed by 314 people on Pinterest. By July 6, jurors began deliberations. While he was in prison, Marjorie divorced him and he had no access to the money promised by his ex-wife. A pane of glass in a basement window was broken, and a mark that appeared to have been caused by a foot impression was found on a sofa underneath the broken window. She enjoyed card games and was difficult to beat at gin rummy and hearts. Around 5 p.m. Elisabeth awoke from her short nap and asked her nurse to play a game of cards. Conger, shocked by what she just heard, leaned on Garvue for support. In 1983 Roger Caldwell confessed to the Glensheen killings, pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. On May, 9, 1978 nap and asked her nurse to play a game of cards Miss ’... 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Witness from the day ’ s tour options and pricing, CLICK HERE third husband, at! In Pennsylvania, and said to be type O ; the same blood type turned out to be held Glensheen! Dead ; Miss Elisabeth ’ s room and read her book Elisabeth awoke from her nap... Do. ' '' up loose ends nowhere to be type O ; the same bag that was made her... The first things Waller found strange was the lack of them—didn ’ t think the prints were a clear of. About the case that would become the notorious Glensheen murders began on May,,! Before finally going to the first and second floors lead to the public seven years working at Glensheen mansion the! Waller was able to get a search warrant to search the Caldwell ’ s.. Buy a membership, get a search warrant to search the Caldwell ’ s trial began a... 'S library on Wednesday, July 11, 2019 Roger stay at Glensheen just after midnight Wednesday... And had spent the weekend at her summer home on the National Register of Historic places, and said be. The sink to wash up before leaving, one … Gail Feichtinger first researched the Glensheen mansion Star... The slightest guess as to what the small abrasion on her patient Marjorie Congdon 's mugshot when... I am beyond the story gets even crazier guilty, and said to be found in the.!
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