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Arrest made in Racine cold case

The Racine County Sheriff's office announced today that the body of a young woman found in 1999 in a Town of Raymond field has been identified as Peggy Lynn Johnson. Florida resident Linda Laroche is in custody and has waived extradition. 

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling says at the age of 18, Johnson, who was cognitively impaired, sought help at a hospital in McHenry, Illinois. Laroche, a nurse, recognized the victim's disability and took her into her home. Schmaling says for the last five years of her life, Johnson lived with Laroche and suffered long term, horrific abuse.

Johnson is currently buried as Jane Doe in a cemetery in Caledonia. Sheriff Schmaling says arrangements are underway to have Johnson's body buried next to her mother in Belvedere, Illinois. 

According to the criminal complaint, the break in the case came on September 23, 2019 when one of Laroche's neighbors sent a tip to the Racine County Sheriff's Office about hearing her say she killed a woman when she was living in Illinois.

Investigators interviewed Laroche's children, who described their mother as being very abusive to Johnson.  They remember seeing Johnson having to sleep and stay in a crawl space under the home.  They also watched Laroche being verbally abusive and emotionally cruel to her, such as screaming at her like an animal and stabbing at her head with a pitchfork.

Investigators then interviewed Laroche's former husband.  He told them he saw Johnson lying on the ground lifeless one day.  Laroche told him Johnson had overdosed, and then spend the next few hours taking her someplace else and never saw her again.

Investigators did interview Laroche, who admitted she was abusive to Johnson.  She claimed she needed to be because Johnson would have men over and entered a crawlspace to steal medications, which Laroche claimed she needed to hide them for her work as a jail program nurse.

As for Johnson's disappearance, Laroche claimed she got in touch with Johnson's grandmother to take custody of her, and then they met at a restaurant to turn her over.  Investigators found out that story wasn't true.  Laroche then claims she saw Johnson taking pills that were at the home.  She then drove Johnson to a rural area and then left here there.

Laroche is facing two felony charges; first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.


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