A former nurse who murdered her family’s live-in maid and nanny back in the 1990s has been sentenced to life in prison.
In 1994, 18-year-old Peggy Lynn Johnson-Schroeder was left completely alone in the world, specifically in the small town of McHenry, Illinois, some 30 minutes south of the Wisconsin border. After the death of her mother—the last of a long series of deaths in her family—the cognitively-impaired teen sought refuge and help at a medical clinic.
That’s where she met a nurse named Linda Sue LaRoche, now 66, who promised to take her in, make her part of her own family, and help her finish high school in exchange for housekeeping and child care.
The bargain would soon prove to cost more than anything is worth.
Far from simply being taken advantage of after losing her entire family and exploited over her medical condition, Schroeder’s life quickly became a never-ending cycle of servitude, abuse, and torture.
Testimony given to police in Racine, Wisconsin by LaRoche’s five children and ex-husband document some of those atrocities.
Johnson-Schroeder was repeatedly slapped in the face and head by her employer; punched and given a black eye on at least one occasion; attacked with a pitchfork; and screamed at “like an animal.” The woman who helped raise the defendant’s children was also forced to sleep in a crawl space underneath the home–and often banished to that tiny space when she did something to upset the lady of the house.
In July 1999, the young woman’s body finally gave out. After years of accumulated and untreated injuries sustained at the LaRoche residence in McHenry, Johnson-Schroeder died “by sepsis pneumonia as a result of infection from injuries sustained from [the] chronic…