Until only a few weeks ago, very little was known about Racine County’s Jane Doe. Investigators knew she was a young woman probably between the ages of 18 and 30, that she was white, maybe had brown eyes, had brown hair, ears that were twice pierced, was 5-foot-8, weighed about 140 pounds, and that she had been through a lot.
She was missing teeth and the ones that remained were not in good condition. Her nose was fractured, her left ear was badly battered and she showed signs of being both malnourished and sexually abused.
On Friday, her identity was revealed as Peggy Lynn Johnson. The Racine County Sheriff’s Office identified her a couple weeks ago in its investigation of what had been a cold case. The woman who allegedly killed Johnson, identified as Linda LaRoche of Cape Coral, Fla., was taken into custody this week, and charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse on Friday.
After years of waiting and hoping and investigating, Jane Doe’s identify is known.
March 4, 1976: Peggy Lynn Johnson is born.
1994: Johnson’s mother dies. She becomes homeless before living with registered nurse Linda LaRoche and her family in McHenry, Ill.
1994-1999: Johnson reportedly faces years of abuse at the hands of LaRoche, including beatings, being forced to sleep in a crawl space and possible malnourishment.
July 21, 1999: A man walking his dog finds Johnson’s body in a cornfield along 92nd Street between Six Mile Road and Seven Mile Road in the Town of Raymond, now the Village of Raymond.
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For the next 20 years, Johnson was known as “Jane Doe.” Some people nicknamed her “Crystal Rae.”
Oct. 27, 1999: The still unidentified body is buried. Her tombstone reads:
“Daughter: Jane Doe. Found: July 21, 1999. Laid to rest: Oct. 27, 1999. Gone, but not forgotten.”
Oct. 16, 2013: Johnson’s body is exhumed from Holy Family Catholic Cemetery in Caledonia. Johnson’s body is later examined by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office and DNA evidence is collected. Isotope testing is performed by a specialist from Tennessee.
July 21, 2015: Johnson’s still unidentified body is reinterred at Holy Family Catholic Cemetery.
April 24, 2018: The Golden State Killer is identified as Joseph James DeAngelo thanks to DNA evidence. This case gives hopes to investigators that other cold cases can be solved in similar ways, such as through other ancestral and DNA databases.
“I see the TV commercials and wonder, if I submit her DNA, is there a family member within this country or even the world who also input DNA who might be able to say ‘That’s the mom,’ or ‘That’s the daughter?’ “ Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling told The Journal Times in January, expressing ongoing hope that Racine’s Jane Doe case might be solved.
Sept. 23, 2019: A “concerned citizen” in Florida tells police that they heard Linda LaRoche talking about how she killed someone in Illinois.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019: LaRoche taken into custody.
Friday, Nov. 8, 2019: Sheriff Christopher Schmaling announces that Jane Doe has been identified as Peggy Lynn Johnson. Minutes later, the Racine County District Attorney’s Office publishes charges filed against LaRoche for first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.