Former prosecutor in notorious Glensheen Mansion murder retiring


The man who prosecuted the murder case of Elisabeth Congdon – the elderly heiress who was killed in Duluth's iconic Glensheen Mansion in 1977 – is retiring, bringing an end to his 42-year legal career.

John DeSanto, who has served as a state judge since 2009, will hang up his robes this month when he reaches the age of 69, MinnPost reports. The website says he will continue serving as a "part-time senior judge."

The mandatory retirement age of judges in Minnesota is 70.

MinnPost says he was only a few years out of law school when he was handed the Glensheen murder case in 1977, after Elisabeth Congdon – the youngest daughter of Chester Adgate Congdon, Duluth business titan and politician – was found smothered in her 39-room mansion. Her nurse was also murdered in the attack.

Congdon's adopted daughter, Marjorie Caldwell, and her husband, Roger Caldwell, were charged with killing the two women in an effort to collect Marjorie Caldwell's inheritance, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

He told the paper, which describes him as a "Northland legal legend," that the landmark case was such a career-defining moment he jokingly thinks of his life as split into two eras: "BC" and "AC" ("Before Caldwell" and "After Caldwell").

He steps down Sept. 16.

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