20 years later, Wisconsin 'Jane Doe' cold case finally solved

Authorities have ID'd her and arrested her alleged killer.

For 20 years following the discovery of her body in a Wisconsin cornfield, she was known only as the Racine County Jane Doe.

Now, she has a name, and her alleged killer has been arrested.

The Racine County Sheriff's Department announced the breakthrough at a press conference on Friday:

Doe has been identified as Peggy Lynn Johnson, a McHenry, Illinois, resident who was 23 at the time of her murder.

Peggy Lynn Johnson

Meanwhile, the suspect in her murder is 64-year-old Linda LaRoche, a resident of Cape Coral, Florida.

Johnson's body was found a few feet off the road by a passerby on July 21, 1999, and according to Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, it was clear she had suffered "significant injuries" and been "brutalized by many means over a long period of time."

Racine County Jane Doe, Peggy Lynn Johnson

A composite of "Jane Doe's" face.

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

A major break in the case came several weeks ago, when a "concerned citizen" in Cape Coral tipped off authorities that LaRoche had been “telling people that she had killed a woman back when she lived in Illinois,” the Journal Times notes. 

LaRoche and the victim crossed paths when the then-18-year-old Johnson, who was cognitively impaired, went to a medical clinic seeking help following the death of her mother.

LaRoche, a registered nurse at the clinic, recognized Johnson's disability and took her into her home, where she suffered "long term and horrific abuse" at LaRoche's hands, Schmaling said.

After five years of this, Johnson died, and her body was discarded in Raymond, Wisconsin. 

Johnson was never reported missing, perhaps owing to the fact all of her family (with the exception of a sister she never met) had passed away before her disappearance. 

LaRoche, who decided not to fight extradition from Florida, will soon face justice in Racine County.

She has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.

Meanwhile, Johnson's remains — currently interred under the name "Jane Doe" in Wisconsin — are due to be exhumed and reburied next to her mother in Illinois.

Nonetheless, tributes have spring up at her current gravesite, prompting the sheriff's office to share pictures of the memorial and thank the community "for honoring her memory in such an amazing way."

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