On July 21, 1999, a man and his daughter were walking their dog in Raymond, Wisconsin, when they saw something strange: drag dots leading from a hillside down into a cornfield. When they went down the uncertain paths, they found the body of a young woman who had died. She was wearing black sweatpants and a shirt with red and black flowers embroidered on it.
She was very thin and her skin was wet from the rain the night before. Because there was no missing person news that matched her description and there were no leads, she was not found for almost 20 years. Then, a mysterious tipper told the Racine County sheriff’s department that their coworker Linda Laroche was saying that she killed a woman when she lived in Illinois. Because of this investigation, the police found out that Jane Doe was actually Peggy Lee Johnson, a woman with a mental disability who had run away from a care facility.
Sheriff Schmaling, the detective who worked on the case, said that Penny, who was 18 at the time, had brain damage and was living on the streets after her parents died. She couldn’t finish high school, so she went to a medical clinic where Linda Laroche worked as a nurse for help. Linda asked Peggy if she would be willing to live with her and help her finish high school if she worked as a live-in nanny and maid for her kids. But as soon as she was inside the house, the abuse began. Her children remember seeing Linda hit and hurt Peggy. In one particularly bad incident, she stuck a pitchfork in Peggy’s head and told her she would have to sleep in a crawl space under the house. When asked why he didn’t stop the abuse, he said it was because his wife was a strong person.
Peggy died, and Linda’s husband found her dead on the ground the night she died. When he asked his wife about Peggy, she said that she took too many pills and died. She told him to take the kids out for ice cream, but when they came back Peggy was gone and they never saw her again.
A postmortem showed that Peggy had blunt force trauma to the head, a broken nose, and a lot of broken or damaged ribs. She also had burn marks on 25% of her body. Even so, none of these wounds on their own caused her death. The coroner said that her death was caused by sepsis pneumonia and wounds that were infected. Many of these wounds were in different stages of healing, which showed that she had been hurt for a long time by the woman who was supposed to help her.
Peggy’s body will be taken out of the grave marked as “Jane Doe” one last time and buried next to her mother.