Local

McHenry County woman identified as 1999 murder victim to be reburied in Belvidere

After decades of being identified only as "Jane Doe," former Harvard woman Peggy Lynn Johnson will be buried next to her mother and grandparents on what would have been her 44th birthday.

Johnson was buried as "Jane Doe" in 1999, shortly after a jogger discovered the 23-year-old's body on the side of a Wisconsin road. For 23 years, Johnson remained unidentified and the reason for her death, unknown.

A break in the investigation last year, however, led to the arrest of former McHenry nurse Linda Sue LaRoche in connection with Johnson's death.

The Racine County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin has since arranged for Johnson's re-burial at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Highland Garden of Memories, 9800 Route 76, Belvidere.

The service is open to members of the public. Although Johnson's family has asked for privacy at this time, they invite the community to attend the service as a "celebration of life," according to a news release the Racine County Sheriff's Office sent Thursday.

The memorial service will include a blessing officiated by Racine County Sheriff’s Office Pastor Antony Balistreri, according to the release.

Johnson is survived by her half-sister, aunt, uncle, and cousins. Those who knew Johnson remember her as a gentle, caring, loving, and soft-spoken person, Racine County Sheriff's Lt. Brian Van Scyoc wrote in the news release.

“We are overwhelmed with the gratitude by the outpouring of community support, along with the generosity and assistance of Gary and Michael Langendorf of Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home and Jim Anspaugh of Myers Racine Monument Works, to have raised the necessary funds to move Peggy from her initial place of burial in Wisconsin to her final resting place in Illinois which includes the purchase of headstones for Peggy, her mother, and grandmother," Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said in an official statement.

Investigators worked Johnson's case for years and exhumed her body in 2013 hoping to identify her using new technology. She was reinterred n 2015.

In September, authorities received a tip that a woman living in Florida, later identified as La Roche, told people she killed a woman when she lived in Illinois.

Authorities then interviewed one of La Roche's children, who stated Johnson had been homeless when La Roche took her. In exchange, Johnson provided nanny and housekeeping services.

LaRoche, 64, was arrested Nov. 7, and charged with first-degree murder and hiding a corpse. She remained at the Racine County Jail Thursday, online records show.

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