Marjorie Congdon Hagen went to court in Arizona last week, trying to get off intensive probation so she could move into an assisted living home. The judge said no. She’s 78.
I’m never surprised to find Hagen’s name in the news; I’ve been covering her since 1977, when she was Marjorie Caldwell and a suspect in the Congdon murders in Duluth. Her mother, heiress Elisabeth Congdon, and a night nurse were brutally killed in the 39-room Glensheen mansion.
Marjorie’s then-husband Roger Caldwell confessed to the murders, saying he wanted to speed up the inheritance, but his wife was acquitted after a sensational trial. Since then, though, she’s been associated with other deaths, and has been charged with bigamy, arson and fraud over the years. She’s served prison time in Minnesota and Arizona.
Now, she’s on intensive probation in Tucson after admitting fraud for transferring money to herself from an elderly man who had died. (We don’t know how he died; she had the body cremated before police investigated the financial crime.)
Last week Hagen tried to get out of her probation, claiming that she needs to move into assisted living care and they won’t take her while she’s on probation.
Hagen submitted reports from doctors claiming she can’t see well due to severe macular degeneration and has right-sided weakness and orthopedic problems. Even with a guide dog, she can’t live alone, they said.
But, according to Kim Smith of the Arizona Daily Star, Hagen’s probation officer opposed the plan. And the judge agreed. So Hagen will continue to live on her own.
Over the years, Hagen has often claimed medical problems — in fact her trial on the fraud allegation was delayed nearly two years because of her claims of medical problems.
She has also claimed in court that her third husband, Wally Hagen, was severely ill and suffered from cancer. But after Wally Hagen’s death, an autopsy showed no signs of cancer. At the time, Marjorie Hagen was charged with killing him, but the charges were later dropped.
In the past, after Marjorie’s many escapades we’ve seen an increase in traffic at Glensheen — the site of the original murders in Duluth, now a tourist attraction owned by the University of Minnesota Duluth. And sales of my book about the case, “Secrets of the Congdon Mansion,” likely will spike for a while.
I’m convinced that interest in the case continues — even after 33 years — for those two reasons: Marjorie’s ongoing problems with the law and the tours at Glensheen. Although they’re careful not to promote the tours as the “murder mansion,” many visitors are interested in the case and buy books in the gift shop.
And earlier this fall, a television crew from Australia interviewed me and others for a Glensheen episode of a series they’re preparing on murders in mansions. It’s scheduled to air on the Discovery Channel next year.