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Former "Jane Doe," Peggy Lynn Johnson Schroeder, gets proper headstone

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 22:17:54-05

RACINE COUNTY — On a bitterly cold morning, a Jane Doe, who was unknown to the world for 20 years, finally got a proper headstone.

"It's a sad day but it's a proud day," said Sheriff Chris Schmaling.

"I couldn't imagine if that was my daughter having her be here with a piece of paper that says her name on it. There's no dignity there's no respect to that."

The Sheriff's Office thanked Draeger Langendorf Funeral Home and Myers Racine Monument works for their generosity and commitment to getting Peggy's headstone done in time for Christmas.

Once the new headstone was in place members of the sheriff's office, their pastor, and a couple of strangers came together to honor Peggy.

Peggy Lynn Johnson-Schroeder was 23-years-old when a passerby found her body badly beaten in a Racine County cornfield in 1999. Investigators identified the body was identified last month.

For two decades, her identity remained a mystery.

"Being unidentified she had no family. No one knew who she was so we felt like I'll be her family for now," said Selena Sura.

Sura visited this gravesite for the past 15 years.

She felt compelled to see the old headstone give way to a new one.

"It was absolutely amazing to see it actually on stone and not just in a little bit piece of paper," said Sura.

Schmaling wants to eventually move Peggy from this Racine County to Belvidere, Illinois so that she can be buried next to her mother. He also wants to get Peggy's mother a respectable headstone.

"In talking with just the last few surviving family members that she has they wanted her moved next to her mother. That again seems to be the right thing to do. Those were their wishes they can't afford to do it themselves," said Schmaling.

Schmaling is calling on the community to help raise $4,000 to get everything done by Peggy's birthday March 4. He says $4,000 is a significantly reduced rate for the endeavor.

Meanwhile, Linda LaRoche, the woman accused of abusing and killing Peggy, is still in Florida waiting for extradition.

To donate to Peggy and her mother's headstones Schmaling says you can issue a check to Draeger Langendorf Funeral Home and include 'Attention: Peggy.'