Peggy Lynn Schroeder was a 23-year-old nanny when she was murdered by the woman in her home in 1999. On Wednesday, her killer was finally found guilty by a grand jury in Racine County, Wisconsin.
Linda Sue La Roche66, is guilty first degree intentional homicide nearly 23 years after the young woman’s death.
Schroeder, who has a cognitive impairment, was adopted by La Roche and her family as a live nanny in 1994, when she was just a teenager. La Roche, whose last name was Johnson at the time, worked as a nurse and met his final victim at a medical clinic.
“After her mother died, Peggy was about 18 years old, became cognitively impaired on her own, and sought help at a medical clinic in McHenry, Ill.”, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said in 2019 when the defendant was first arrested. “There, she met a registered nurse named Linda LaRoche.”
La Roche, after realizing the girl had a developmental disability, let Schroeder live in the house and helped her through high school in exchange for her job as a housekeeper and nanny.
Schroeder’s life quickly turned into a life of slavery and torture.
La Roche regularly abused and derided the nanny, her 5 children and her ex-husband later reported it to the police. The disturbing behavior caused by La Roche by her family immediately led to physical and emotional abuse. Schroeder was repeatedly slapped in the face and head; punched and black-eyed at least once; stab with a pitchfork; shouted “like an animal.” She was even put to sleep in a crawl space underneath the house.
Fueled by jealous rage, prosecutors say, the harrowing finale came to a sad and horrifying end in July 1999.
La Roche’s ex-husband said he came home to find Schroeder dead on the floor. His then-wife said she had overdosed and instructed him to take their five children out for ice cream. He obeyed. La Roche returned about two and a half hours later, he recalls, and Schroeder was, in a sense, forgotten for the next 20 years.
But only on state lines, Jane Doe by the people of Racine County, Wisc.
On the morning of July 21, 1999, a man in Raymond, Wisc. walking through the sprawling cornfields with his dog which he always does. But that day, with her teenage daughter with her, would be the cause of an absolutely horrendous oddity.
Keep an eye out for trails of drag, the man, the girl, and the dog following them. Across a small embankment. Under the power lines. Directly into the corn row. Peggy Schroeder’s body was noticeably thinner and drenched from the previous night’s storm, wearing black sweatpants, and a gray denim shirt embroidered with several pieces: red and black flowers.
“It’s so alive and it’s like yesterday,” Megan Riosthat daughter, told the Milwaukee ABC affiliate WISN in 2012. “Her arm was clearly broken and placed behind her in a very unnatural position.”
“You can tell she has a lot of bruises and a lot of stuff on her.” Rios continued. “And the police told us she may have been tortured for four weeks before she finally passed away.”
Worse than described, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy that revealed the extent of the extreme torture that is believed to have ultimately taken Schroeder’s life.
Her ribs were recently broken and have healed from multiple fractures in the past. She has swelling in her knees and feet from infected wounds; The burns covered about 25 percent of her body; her throat seemed to burn; her left ear was severed to the point of permanent disfigurement; her nose was broken; her body was covered with bruises; she was branded; her lips were open; four lacerations to her scalp were caused by force trauma; her body has scratches like road scratches – probably from being dragged. She was also “a bit malnourished”. There are no drugs in her system.
According to The Racine Journal, the small town of 3,500 held a funeral for the unidentified victim. People donated money for her coffin.
“It was terrible, you know, we had to be here this morning,” Rev. Jeff Thielen, the pastor of St. Lucy’s Church told the newspaper. “A young girl is lying here as a stark reminder of everything cruel in life.”
The mourners at the “beautiful in tragedy” funeral described the woman’s legacy as a reminder to never accept the kind of reprehensible violence that marked her final years and final years. took her life.
Schroeder’s body was finally exhumed. DNA attempts were made to identify her and possibly find her killer. Investigators have traveled to several states looking for clues and evidence. A composite photo of what she might have looked like at the time of her death was put together using the latest technology and then shared widely.
Nothing really worked. The case turned cold.
“Did I have my father’s eyes?” a Facebook page asked the victim’s voice. “Did my mother think of me today?”
“Someone knows me… someone misses me,” said another such post from the Racine County Sheriff’s Office effort.
“It’s sad that after all these years, she’s still nobody,” Rios mused in an interview nearly 10 years ago.
In September 2019, an anonymous tip came from a concerned Florida citizen who said they heard La Roche discuss a murder she committed in Illinois 20 years ago. The tipster led the authorities to meet the accused. Thereafter, an investigation was conducted and the police conducted the aforementioned interviews with the husband and children of the accused. DNA from Jane Doe’s body was re-examined. Schroeder was finally identified. La Roche was arrested in November 2019.
“The Sheriff’s Office will never forget or stop solving a cold case,” Sheriff Schmaling said in a statement after the verdict was announced. “For anyone involved in any of the other murders, you need to be concerned. It’s not a matter of if, but when, you’re responsible.”
According to Northwest HeraldLa Roche accepted the verdict without emotion this week.
In March 2020, Peggy Lynn Schroeder is buried next to her mother. Her gravestone is finally engraved with her real name.
“[She] always smiling, always smiling, she was just a typical teenage girl,” childhood friend of Schroeder Theresa Robertson told the newspaper. [She] was overwhelmed after she lost her mother. She is trying to find her place.”
[images: La Roche and composite via Racine County Sheriff’s Office; Schroeder via WDJT/screengrab]
Is there a trick we should know? [email protected]
https://lawandcrime.com/crime/a-nurse-took-in-a-cognitively-impaired-teen-made-her-a-nanny-and-tortured-her-for-years-before-killing-her-in-1999-now-shes-a-convicted-murderer/ Linda La Roche guilty in the cold case of Peggy Schroeder’s murder