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Ex-Nurse Convicted Of Killing Kids' Cognitively Impaired Nanny In 1999 After Years Of Abuse

Linda LaRoche was convicted of the murder of Peggy Lynn Johnson-Schroeder, a cognitively-impaired orphan teen whom she'd hired as a nanny after the women's mother died of AIDS.

By Gina Tron
Linda La Roche Pd

A former nurse has been convicted of killing her cognitively impaired live-in nanny in 1999.

A jury on Wednesday convicted Linda LaRoche, 66, of murdering Peggy Lynn Johnson-Schroeder, 23, in 1999, CBS 58 reports. She was found guilty of both first-degree intentional homicide and of hiding the her victim's corpse. 

Johnson-Schroeder was just 18 when her mom died of AIDS in 1994; the disabled young woman then turned to a medical clinic in Racine, Wisconsin for assistance. There, she met LaRoche, then a registered nurse, who took Johnson-Schroeder into her Illinois home as a live-in nanny, CBS 58 reported. LaRoche lived with her then-husband and their five children, Law&Crime reported, when Johnson-Schroeder was orphaned.

"There, she suffered long-term and horrific abuse at the hand of Linda LaRoche," Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said at a 2019 press conference, Fox6 reported in 2019.

Investigators say that, for five years, LaRoche tortured the disabled woman through burning and beatings, and forced her to sleep in a crawl space. 

During the trial, prosecutors said that LaRoche's now ex-husband and five children later told police how LaRoche treated their nanny “like an animal," according to Law&Crime. The abuse eventually escalated to murder.

LaRoche's former husband told investigators that he discovered the nanny dead on the floor one day and claimed that his wife told him that Johnson-Schroeder had overdosed. She then allegedly instructed him to take their children out for ice cream. He has not been charged with any crime.

Johnson-Schroeder was never reported missing, and police were never called about her death.

A woman's unidentified remains — now known to be Johnson-Schroeder's — were found in 1999 in a Racine County cornfield, near a roadway. Her ribs had been broken, and she had infected wounds as well as burn marks covering about 25 percent of her body, Law&Crime reports. In addition, her ear had been cut, her nose had been broken and her body was covered in bruises and other horrific injuries. She also appeared to have been dragged by a vehicle, the Northwest Herald reports. For 20 years, she was known only as “Jane Doe.”

Investigators identified the remains as Johnson-Schroeder in 2019 when they identified LaRoche as the suspect in their Jane Doe killing. They had been tipped off after a concerned citizen said that LaRoche, who was living in Florida in 2019, was telling people she had killed a woman back in the 1990s.

LaRoche reportedly showed no emotion when she was convicted.

Theresa Robertson, a childhood friend of the victim, previously told the Northwest Herald that she was “caring, outgoing and pretty.”

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