Skip to main content

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."

Next Up

hibachi daruma

Popular hibachi food truck opens second Twin Cities restaurant

The much-anticipated Daruma opens for takeout Thursday evening.

20211128_Vikings_49ers_REG12_0144 (1)

What changes are coming to the Vikings' offensive line?

Once again, Minnesota has work to do to figure out its interior spots

Kris Ehresmann

One of Minnesota's key COVID-19 leaders is retiring

Kris Ehresmann has given more than 30 years of her life to public health in Minnesota.

summit beach park orono

Plan to develop Orono park on hold after Daytons object

The Dayton family donated the land to the city for the park in the 1970s.

covid nurse doctor hospital wikimedia commons

Child from Twin Cities, school staff member die from COVID

Both deaths were reported by the Minnesota Department of Health Thursday.


3 clippers will deliver snow to Minnesota through Tuesday

Clippers move through Friday night, Saturday night and again Monday.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 10.45.51 AM

Video: Inebriated Sheriff Dave Hutchinson after high-speed crash

Hutchinson was unaware of his location and repeatedly said he wasn't driving.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, January 20

A Mayo Clinic data scientists believes omicron may have already peaked in parts of Minnesota, though that reality won't show up in the reported cases until at least next week.

hospital, emergency room

2 dead, 1 critical after being found unconscious in garage

The men were believed to have been drinking together and possibly using drugs.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

2 teens suspected in 20 robberies arrested after police chase

They are suspects in 23 cases in three Twin Cities counties.

Dave Hutchinson

Hennepin Co. Sheriff was driving 125 mph before DWI crash, files reveal

Taken together, the files provide a clearer picture of what exactly happened the morning of Dec. 8.

Pixabay - casino slot machines

Canadian man pleads guilty to sexually abusing children at MN casino

Brady John Hillis, 32, pleaded guilty two counts of abusive sexual contact with a child under 12.


Arrest made in 1993 Minneapolis cold case murder

Jeanne Ann Childs was killed at her apartment almost 26 years ago.

Kandiyohi County Courthouse

46 years later, arrest made in connection to MN stabbing murder

A 74-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in her home in 1974.

Over a year later, man sentenced for murder of Minneapolis dad

Antwan Darnell Cosey fled the state after shooting Frankie Golden during a confrontation.

Randall Merrick

Remains of Wisconsin woman found in Blaine 3 years after her death

Last week, Rochester man was charged with murder in connection to her death.

Jerry Westrom

Isanti businessman indicted for 1st-degree murder in 1993 cold case

Jerry Westrom was arrested in February 2019 for the killing of Jeanie Childs.

Some surprising revelations from the release of Jayme Closs files

Authorities dropped records from the case on Friday.

Police, FBI make arrest in 1991 Minneapolis cold case

A 56-year-old man from South St. Paul was arrested on Tuesday.

Nancy Dougherty

Arrest made in connection to 1986 Chisholm homicide cold case

The suspect, now 52, is accused of killing a woman 34 years ago.