Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Heiress pleads guilty in fraud case one day before trial

Marjorie Hagen could get up to 2.5 years in prison

A controversial heiress once accused of killing her mother and suspected in other mysterious deaths pleaded guilty to attempted forgery on the eve of another trial.

Marjorie Congdon Hagen, 76, was indicted on one charge each of fraud and forgery for trying to cash a check for more than $11,000 on March 19, 2007, from a man who died earlier that month.

Hagen pleaded guilty to attempted forgery on Monday, a day before jury selection was to start.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Clark W. Munger will sentence Hagen on Jan. 12.

Hagen could receive a prison sentence from six months to 2.5 years or three years on probation with 12 months in jail possible.

Hagen claimed in defense papers that she cared for Roger Sammis, the victim, and took his inheritance money from a joint account to pay debts and repay herself and a friend of the victim’s for money they had loaned him.

Sammis called Hagen “my angel,” defense records show.

Though once wealthy, Hagen’s fortunes appear to have declined.

She was represented in the fraud case by court-appointed attorney Brick P. Storts III.

Financial records filed in the case indicate Hagen had about $12,000 in bank accounts and lived on an annuity and monthly trust fund payments.

Hagen and her second husband, Roger Caldwell, were charged with murder in the 1977 murders of her mother, wealthy Minnesota heiress Elisabeth Congdon, and a nurse, Velma Pietila.

Caldwell was convicted. Hagen was acquitted, but an alibi witness later recanted, records show.

Hagen allegedly paid $200,000 for Roger Caldwell’s attorneys from her mother’s estate, Wallace Hagen’s children said in court papers.

While Hagen expected millions from her mother’s estate, her children sued for the right to the money, saying they could prove in a civil trial she conspired with Roger Caldwell to kill her mother. Hagen settled with her children out of court.

While Caldwell was in prison, Hagen befriended Wallace and Helen Hagen of Mound, Minn. Marjorie was the last person to feed an ailing Helen Hagen before she died, Wallace Hagen’s children claimed.

While Roger Caldwell was in prison, Marjorie and Wallace were married. Marjorie Hagen was later charged with bigamy because she failed to divorce Caldwell, court records show.

Caldwell’s murder conviction was overturned and he later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea deal. He killed himself in 1988 after being released from prison.

Wallace Hagen died Oct. 29, 1992, the day after Marjorie Hagen was convicted of setting an RV on fire in Ajo, where the couple lived.

Marjorie Hagen also was convicted in a separate criminal damage case and served 14 years of a 15-year sentence, records show.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service