Updated: Mar 21, 2022
Peggy Lynn Johnson-Schroeder was 23 years old when she was murdered in 1999. No one would know it for more than two generations.
She was known to have a cognitive impairment. Her mother had died and Peggy was alone; just a teenager. She went in to a medical clinic in McHenry, Illinois looking for help, where she met a registered nurse named Linda Sue La Roche. Peggy became her 'live-in nanny' in return for giving Peggy the opportunity to finish high school. Peggy went from housekeeper to a tortured servant shortly thereafter.
The trial showed that La Roche frequently abused and denigrated Peggy, her five children and her ex-husband. Peggy was often slapped in the face and head, punched, and even given a black eye. She was reportedly stabbed with a pitchfork, even forced to sleep in a crawl space underneath the house.
In July of 1999, La Roche's ex-husband reported that he came home and found Peggy dead on the floor. La Roche told him that Peggy overdosed and ordered him to take all five children out to get ice-cream. He did. Peggy was not spoken of again for twenty years.
July 21, 1999, a man in Raymond, Wisconsin (Racine County) walking with his dog when he saw drag marks, and began following the track in the cornfields, past an embankment and under power lines, where he found a body. Described as a thin body, soaking wet from the storm the night before, dressed in black sweatpants and a gray denim shirt. Her arm was broken and the body was laying in an 'unnatural position'. He said that she was visibly bruised all over her body.
With a complete autopsy, it was reported that the unidentified female body found was badly beaten and malnourished. Twenty-five percent of her upper body had burns which was evidence of long time torture. She had an infection that weakened her body. She was unable to defend herself.
She was buried in Racine County under 'Jane Doe' for over 20 years. New DNA testing capabilities would bring her truth to light.
No one ever reported Peggy missing.
Linda was arrested in 2019. In court, her own children described her as repeatedly abusive to Peggy. Linda's own daughter didn't want to get her mother in trouble, but when the police came to the door, she did the right thing, and told the truth.
Not only did Linda's only daughter know and witness her mother abuse and torture Peggy, but when Peggy 'disappeared', she questioned if her own mother murdered her. Against her loyalty to her mother, Linda's daughter worked with law enforcement to record conversations between herself and her mother. Linda told her daughter the last time she saw Peggy Linda dropped Peggy off at a restaurant and that Peggy's grandmother picked her up. Linda said she never saw Peggy again.
Another story Linda told her daughter was that Peggy m oved to Las Vegas years prior to live with her father. Linda also mentioned that Peggy would wander around the neighborhood, suggesting that Peggy was promiscuous. The constant changes of her stories to her daughter were no different than the stories she couldn't keep straight when law enforcement interviewed her about Peggy's disappearance and whereabouts.
On March 16, 2022, Linda was found guilty of intentional homicide in the first degree murder of Peggy Lynn, and guilty of concealment of a homicide.
Life sentence is the expectation, and for many of us, hope that she never sees the light of day. Her sentencing will be on May 23, 2022
As Jane Doe, Peggy's remains were laid to rest at the Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home in Racine County, Wisconsin where she was found. Once she was identified more than twenty years later, her family had her laid to rest with her family in Belvidere, Illinois.
We are grateful to the Racine County County Sheriff's Office, Coroner's Office, State Attorney's Office and all the assisting agencies that investigated and never let go of Jane Does case, not only giving her a name, but bringing her to her family and bringing the truth to light, and justice.
May you rest in peace now Peggy.