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Nurse Charged in Beating Death of Long-Unidentified Woman

Body of cognitively impaired victim was found 20 years ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 8, 2019 3:58 PM CST
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The remains of Peggy Lynn Johnson will be moved from this grave site in Wisconsin to Illinois, where her mother is buried.   (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

(Newser) – A 63-year-old nurse has been charged in the beating death of a 23-year-old cognitively impaired woman whose battered body was discovered at the edge of a cornfield in southeastern Wisconsin in July 1999, police said Friday. Linda La Roche was arrested Tuesday in Cape Coral, Florida, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said in a news conference, the AP reports. According to a criminal complaint, La Roche was charged Thursday with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in the killing of Peggy Lynn Johnson. La Roche has waived extradition to Wisconsin. The sheriff said investigators plugged away at the cold case for years, not knowing the identity of the victim. It was only a few weeks ago that investigators developed information that identified Johnson and led them to La Roche, Schmaling said.

Johnson met La Roche at a medical center in McHenry, Illinois, where La Roche worked as a registered nurse in the 1990s. Johnson went there seeking help after her mother died, the sheriff said. La Roche "recognized Peggy’s disability," Schmaling said, per WGN. Johnson subsequently moved into La Roche's home in McHenry, and the nurse "barbarically" brutalized her over a long period of time, Schmaling said. Johnson lived with La Roche for the last five years of her life, and was never reported as a missing person, he said. "The utter barbaric brutality inflicted on this young woman is something none of us will never forget," Schmaling said. Now that Johnson has been identified, authorities plan to rebury her next to her mother in Belvidere, Illinois, Schmaling said.

(Read more cold cases stories.)

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