On the 21st of July 1999 in Raymond, Wisconsin, a man and his teenage daughter were out walking their dog, as they had done every day for several years, when they noticed some strange depressions in the ground. It had been raining the night before and a clear drag mark was present in the earth. Curious, they followed the trail to the edge of a nearby cornfield where they discovered the bruised and battered body of a young woman. She was shoeless, dressed in a gray western style button-up shirt with a red floral embroidery about the chest and black sweat pants. She was estimated to be between 18-35 years old and was found to be cognitively disabled.
The body was a catalog of cuts and bruises and broken bones indicative of years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a cruel and unknown individual. It was clear that she had lived in an abusive environment for some time before finally dying from what was determined to be untreated injuries and blunt force trauma to the head. Her injuries had become infected eventually leading to sepsis pneumonia, before her body was carelessly dragged and discarded by the side a rural road.
For twenty years the Jane Doe, who came to be known as “Racine County Jane Doe” or “Crystal Rae”, lay unidentified at the Holy Family Cemetery in Caledonia, with the epitaph: “Daughter: Jane Doe, Gone but not forgotten” inscribed on her tombstone. 50 locals attended her funeral to send her on her way but years passed and nobody could give the Racine Country Jane Doe back her identity.
Then in the fall of 2019 an anonymous tip was called into the Racine County Sheriff’s office concerning a local woman who had been claiming to have killed someone in the 90’s.
Following the death of her mother in the mid-nineties Peggy Lynn managed to find her way to a medical Centre in a desperate plea for help. It was there that she met LaRoche who claimed she had experience with and was aware of the teenager’s condition. The girl was 18 years old at the time of her mother’s death. Peggy Lynn was quickly ushered into LaRoche;s home and allegedly forced into domestic servitude and a lifetime of abuse and neglect. The teenager was forced to be a nanny to LaRoche;s children and suffered daily beatings and abuse that eventually lead to her death in 1999.
The suspect’s children were quick to out their mothers vile behavior towards Peggy Lynn Johnson when they were growing up and recounted in detail the abuse the young woman had suffered at her hands. They referred to her as “the nanny” and claimed that she was forced to live in the crawlspace of the house. Shockingly they also told investigators that they had witnessed their mother “Stab Peggy Lynn in the head with a pitchfork” and black her eye. The children would often question their “nanny” about her obvious injuries to which she would tell them that their mom was responsible.
One day the children went out to eat ice cream with their father and when they returned Peggy Lynn was gone. They never saw her again after that.
Investigators talked to Linda Sue LaRoche’s ex-husband who also testified to the abuse and believes he may have seen Peggy Lynn dead, or at least close to death, on the property. According to reports his then-wife claimed that Peggy Lynn had taken an overdose and she wanted to get her off the property to avoid being involved in the aftermath. She instructed him to take the kids for ice cream for a couple of hours and when he returned Peggy Lynn was gone.
Investigators believe that LaRoche drove Peggy Lynn over state lines, likely in order to distance herself from the crime and complicate the investigation, and dumped her body by the cornfield.
Since the victim’s mother was deceased nobody reported her missing and nobody was looking for her. Upon her arrest the suspect changed her account several times, at one point claiming that the victim had OD’d on prescription drugs that she claimed to legally store in the crawlspace of the family home as part of her occupation as a nurse at a correctional facility. In another account she claimed that she could no longer tolerate the 23 year old and drove her out to a rural area and dumped her.