Congdon heiress held in Arizona theft case

  • Article by: JOE KIMBALL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2007 - 10:20 PM

Marjorie Hagen, a central figure in the 1977 Congdon murder trial in Duluth, was arrested in Tucson.

Marjorie Congdon Hagen, 74, the Duluth heiress who was involved in one of Minnesota's most publicized murder cases, was arrested Friday in Tucson, Ariz., on suspicion of theft, forgery, fraud and computer tampering.

She has been living in Tucson since her release from an Arizona prison in 2004 after serving an 11-year term for arson.

No details on the present charges were released, pending investigation. Officials said she was arrested at Atria Bell Court Gardens, an independent-living home, on Thursday. She is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Hagen was an adopted daughter of Elisabeth Congdon, the last surviving child of Duluth mining magnate Chester Congdon. Elisabeth never married, but she raised two adopted daughters in the 39-room Glensheen mansion on the shores of Lake Superior. It's now a tourist site operated by the University of Minnesota.

Elisabeth Congdon was murdered in 1977; she was 83 and partly paralyzed. Also killed was nurse Velma Pietila, who had tried to defend her helpless charge. Officials charged that Marjorie Hagen and her then-husband, Roger Caldwell, planned the murders to speed up their inheritance.

Roger Caldwell was convicted of the crimes. Hagen was charged but acquitted. She then married Wally Hagen, apparently without divorcing Caldwell. Bigamy charges were filed in North Dakota, but she was never tried.

In 1984 she was convicted of arson for burning down a house in Mound. After her release from a Minnesota prison, she and Hagen moved to Arizona.

In 1991, suspicious fires broke out in her neighborhood in Ajo, Ariz., and she was convicted again of arson.

On the day she was to be sent to prison for the Arizona arson, Wally Hagen mysteriously died in their home. Marjorie Hagen was charged with murder, but the charges were dropped because there was evidence that the couple may have comtemplated an abortive double suicide.

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