Racine County 'Jane Doe' identified, nurse arrested in 1999 murder

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RACINE, Wis. (WSAW) -

Racine County Sheriff's Department press conference Nov. 8, 2019

Authorities in southeastern Wisconsin say they now know the identity of a woman found fatally beaten near a cornfield in 1999 and have made an arrest in her death. The victim was identified as Peggy Lynn Johnson. She was 23 at the time of her death.

Racine County sheriff's officials say the victim and suspect have ties to the Chicago area. The suspect in Johnson's death has been identified as Linda Laroche, 64.

Racine County Sheriff Cristopher Schmaling said Johnson was cognitively disabled. He said after Peggy's mother died, she went for help at a medical clinic in McHenry, Ill.

"There she met a registered nurse named Linda Laroche, who recognized Peggy's disability and took her into her home. Peggy lived with Laroche in McHenry for the last five years of her life. There, she suffered long-term and horrific abuse at the hand of Linda Laroche," Schmaling said.

Johnson's body was found on the edge of the cornfield in Raymond in July 1999.

Johnson's body was exhumed in 2013 with the hope of using advancing technology to identify her. She was reinterred in 2015, 16 years to the day that her body was discovered.

Laroche was arrested Nov. 5 in Cape Coral, Florida. She will be brought to Racine County.