A former Illinois woman accused of torturing, murdering and dumping the body of a 23-year-old woman in the Town of Raymond in 1999 was in Racine County Circuit Court Monday.
Linda Sue LaRoche, 64, of Cape Coral, Florida, is being held at the Racine County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond on one felony count of first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.
At a press conference held in November, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling revealed the identity of a woman whose badly beaten body was discovered in a cornfield in the town of Raymond in 1999. “Jane Doe” was identified as Peggy Lynn Johnson.
Johnson was cognitively impaired and living homeless on her own at the age of 18 after her mother died in 1994. She went looking for help at a McHenry medical clinic where she met LaRoche, who was working as a registered nurse (RN).
According to the criminal complaint, LaRoche told police that Johnson had men coming to the house and she would steal medications. A registered nurse at a jail at the time, LaRoche told the police that she brought medications home and hid them in a crawl space.
“On the night Peggy went missing, Laroche said she came home and found Peggy standing at the kitchen counter with pills in her hands. Laroche stated that she asked what was going on and that Peggy dumped the pills down the drain,” the complaint reads.
Laroche dumped the medications down the drain. Peggy fainted and took her outside for fresh air.
“She stated she didn’t know what to do and that she thought about calling an ambulance but didn’t,” according to the criminal complaint.
Instead, Laroche took Johnson — who was alive at the time — took her out of the house, had her call her grandmother and took her to a nearby restaurant. Investigators, however, spoke to Johnson’s grandmother. She told them she had never spoken to or met Laroche. When the officers confronted her, she said she “was not sure who the person was that she left Peggy with.
The next day, however, she told them that she let Peggy out of the car in a rural area in the Town of Raymond, that “that something must have happened to her” after she dropped her off.
An autopsy was done at the time Johnson’s body was found revealed that she showed signs of significant trauma. Her injuries included signs of having been dragged, burned, and beaten. Her nose was broken, had burn marks, and road rash. She also had broken ribs — but those injuries were caused after her death, the complaint reads.
Officials with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office noted that the cause of Johnson’s death was “homicide by sepsis pneumonia as a result of infection from injuries sustained from chronic abuse. Drugs were not found in her system.
LaRoche faces life in prison if convicted of the homicide charge.
A preliminary hearing has been set for 8:30 a.m. on January 9 in front of John Bjelajac.
Read the Criminal Complaint for Linda La Roche.