Lead Glensheen Investigator, Gary Waller, Dies at Age 72

JAN. 4, 1945 - AUG. 15, 2017

Gary Waller
Photo: St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office

MOOSE LAKE, Minn. – Gary Waller, who led the investigation of the Glensheen murders in 1977, and later served as St. Louis County Sheriff has died, according to an obituary.

Waller, 72, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at his home, according to the obituary.

Waller dedicated his life to law enforcement. He served as a Lieutenant on the Duluth Police Department, a rank he worked his way up to over 20 years with the department.

While serving on the Duluth Police Dept., Waller led the investigation of the Glensheen murders in 1977. He would commemorate his work of the infamous case in a co-authored book, “Will to Murder: The True Story Behind the Crimes and Trials Surrounding The Glensheen Killings.”

He worked with retired Judge John DeSanto on that book, Desanto was the prosecutor for the case and says Waller and he were very close.

“I loved him as a brother, we called each other brothers,” said Desanto. “I get emotional. I’ll truly miss him. He was important to law enforcement, and he leaves behind a good legacy of law enforcement done right.”

After his retirement from the Duluth PD, Waller would serve three terms as Sheriff of St. Louis County, where he would help to construct the new jail on Haines Road, replacing the old downtown facility.

His funeral is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 25. Details have not been announced.

The St. Louis County Sheriff Office released the following statement on the passing of Waller:

He improved the way investigations are conducted, built the current St. Louis County Jail and implemented the D.A.R.E. program for deputies to teach in schools. These are just a few of the accomplishments credited to former Sheriff Gary Waller, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 72. 

Waller served as St. Louis County Sheriff from 1987 until his retirement in 1999. His career in law enforcement also included 21 years working for the Duluth Police Department, where he was perhaps best known for his role as lead investigator in the Congdon murders. 

“Gary Waller made our agency more progressive. He brought in new policies and new ways of doing things,” said current Sheriff Ross Litman. “He hired me and a number of our now more senior deputies and staff, so his lessons and legacy are still very much with us. Because of his background, he strongly supported investigations and brought a modern ethic and new direction in the way we do our work.”

Waller was a member of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association and served a term as its president. In 1995 he was awarded the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, which is given to individuals and organizations that have made an outstanding contribution within the community towards crime prevention and community awareness.  

Honor guards from both the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and Duluth Police Department will be present at his funeral, which is scheduled for August. 25.

Statement from St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin:

I first came to know Gary when I was a brand new prosecutor in the late 1970’s and he was the lead investigator on the Congdon murder cases.

Along with John DeSanto, the three of us shared a house in Dakota County for four long months during the Marjorie Caldwell case in 1979.

Gary came from a proud law enforcement family. As a result, he was driven…he pushed himself to be the best he could be…and expected no less from those he supervised or worked with. I was privileged to work with him on major cases until his election as Sheriff in 1986. Gary’s exemplary  professionalism, high expectations, trust in his colleagues and his belief in our justice system made him one of the best…and I have no doubt it made me a better prosecutor…and person. “Just good enough” was not an option in his book.

The people of Duluth and later  all of St. Louis County were well served by this good man.

He made a difference.

 

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