Murder in McHenry

In March, authorities charged a former McHenry nurse for the death of a woman whose body was found in 1999


Paulina Borowski

Last month, a jury in Wisconsin found 66 year old Linda La Roche guilty of first-degree intentional homicide after killing her housekeeper/nanny. The hours story takes place 23 years ago in McHenry.

Paulina Borowski, Staff Writer

A 23-year-old missing persons case was closed in March after Linda Sue La Roche, a 63 year old nurse from McHenry, was convicted for the homicide of Peggy Lynn Johnson back in 1999.

23-year-old Peggy Lynn Johnson met Linda Sue LaRoche at a medical center in McHenry where La Roche worked as a registered nurse in the 1990s. Johnson went there seeking help after her mother died and needed help as she was cognitively impared. La Roche took Peggy in, then forced her to work as a housekeeper/nanny for her and her family since Peggy was 18. She was constantly abused by LaRoche and had to sleep in the crawl-space under the house with no food.

In late July of 1999, a woman walking along 92nd Street between 6-7 Mile Road in Raymond, Wisc. discovered a young woman’s body lying discarded in a cornfield several feet from the roadway. Her body went unidentified since she was killed but the relation to her death went on for years as no one has marked her as a missing person.

“Investigators spent thousands of hours over the past 20 years trying to identify the woman’s body and find her killer,” Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said at a press conference in March.

The unidentified body (given the name Jane Doe) had several broken bones, was stuck in the head before she was killed and that she was severely malnourished. Investigators worked for years without knowing Johnson’s identity. The remains that were found, were reexamined in 2013 in hope of identifying her using new technology. Peggy’s body was identified not soon after.

“The utter barbaric brutality inflicted on this young woman is something that none of us will ever forget,” Schmaling said.

In September, 2019, authorities received a tip that a woman living in Florida, La Roche, was telling people she had killed a woman when she lived in Illinois. La Roche was arrested in Cape Coral, Flo. and was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in the killing of Peggy Lynn Johnson. Police took LaRoche into custody in Cape Coral, that November.

Her trial of conviction was revisited on March 18 of this year in Racine County, Wis., as the jury found the woman guilty on both charges, yet a sentence hearing is planned for late May of this year. La Roche, on trial and even in custody, changes her story every time she retells what happened to Johnson.

But, with Johnson’s body identified, authorities plan to take Peggy’s remains and rebury her next to her mother in Belvidere. She’s still buried as a Jane Doe, though there is finally some closure and peace after this cold case.