Former nurse sentenced to life without parole

  • Linda La Roche shows no emotion upon hearing the guilty verdicts in Racine County court in Wisconsin.

    Linda La Roche shows no emotion upon hearing the guilty verdicts in Racine County court in Wisconsin. Mark Hertzberg for Shaw Local News Network/March 2022

Updated 5/23/2022 9:14 PM

A former McHenry County woman, described as a "monster" Monday by prosecutors and her victim's family members, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the "barbaric" killing of a 23-year-old Harvard woman more than 20 years ago.

Linda Sue La Roche, 67, formerly known as Linda Sue Johnson, was convicted in March of the first-degree intentional homicide and hiding the body of Peggy Lynn Johnson-Schroeder.


La Roche -- who formerly lived in homes in Lakemoor and Bull Valley, made a living as a nurse and owned a business that cared for jail inmates -- was sentenced to an additional five years in prison for hiding a corpse.

Johnson-Schroeder's remains were found in a cornfield in 1999 in Raymond, Wisconsin, and went unidentified for 20 years. She was buried as a Jane Doe.

"Peggy is a daughter, stepdaughter, granddaughter, niece, step niece, friend (and) … a loving, caring, thoughtful human being, not an animal like you treated her," Johnson-Schroeder's aunt Virginia "Ginny" Schroeder Proffitt of Marengo said at Monday's sentencing hearing in a Racine County courtroom.

She and other family members wore T-shirts with a photo of Johnson-Schroeder and the words "Justice for Peggy" scrolled above.

"She was somebody," she continued. "You brutally, barbarically beat and tortured her. Her last breath was on a side of a road in a cornfield. You are a narcissist, … (a) psychotic monster."

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Johnson-Schroeder, whom police said was cognitively impaired, had worked for La Roche as a live-in nanny from 1994 to 1999. The two had met at a clinic where La Roche worked shortly after Johnson-Schroeder's mother died.

The woman, 19 at the time, was initially taken in to help with La Roche's five children. La Roche's children and ex-husband testified she began to physically abuse Johnson-Schroeder, slapped her often, once stabbed her with a pitchfork and made her sleep in a crawl space, until one day she disappeared.

On July 21, 1999, a man walking his dog along a road in rural Racine County discovered her remains.

La Roche was charged in the woman's killing after a "concerned citizen" in Florida, where La Roche was living, made a call to police. The caller said La Roche was telling people she had killed someone in Illinois.

Johnson-Schroeder's remains showed that she had been brutalized for many years, prosecutors said.

La Roche also spoke in court Monday, proclaiming her innocence. She said she loved Johnson-Schroeder and called her "my little buddy."


"My heart and soul go out to her family," said a tearful La Roche. "Whoever did this to her is more than a monster. They don't deserve to breathe, but it is not me."

La Roche said she treated Johnson-Schroeder the same as her own children, whom she did not beat, aside from throwing a brush or putting soap in their mouths if they lied. She said that on the day she last saw Johnson-Schroeder, she had dropped her off in Wisconsin at a gas station and thought she was being picked up by a friend.

"We have a shared goal," La Roche said turning toward the the family, "to bring justice for her, and this is not justice."

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