A 15-year-old girl in Morrison, Illinois, has been accused of murdering her mother last week and then burning down her house to cover it up

By Chris Harris
July 12, 2017 05:09 PM

Authorities investigating the homicide of a 53-year-old woman whose body was found Saturday inside her burning house in Morrison, Illinois, have arrested her 15-year-old daughter, whom they suspect is the killer, PEOPLE confirms.

A spokesman for the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois confirms that law enforcement has arrested the teenage daughter of Peggy Schroeder, who was deaf.

The girl is charged as a juvenile with two counts of first-degree murder, concealment of homicidal death and arson. Though authorities reportedly said Schroeder was shot in the head, her cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

PEOPLE does not identify juveniles accused of crimes unless they are tried as adults.

The girl did not enter a plea during a court hearing Tuesday in juvenile court. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether they plan to try her as an adult. If she is tried and convicted as a minor, she would be imprisoned until she turns 21.

Her lawyer, Jim Mertes, declined to discuss the allegations against his client.

The sheriff’s spokesman would only discuss the girl’s arrest and not the allegations against her, which were reportedly outlined by investigators during Tuesday’s hearing.

According to SaukValley.com, citing that testimony, authorities believe the teen was waiting for her mother to return from work last Thursday.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

When Schroeder walked into the house around 5:30 p.m., the girl allegedly met her in the living room and had her place a towel over her face and then fired a single shot from a .38-caliber revolver into her forehead, authorities said, SaukValley.com reports.

According to court testimony, authorities claim the teen then texted a photo of Schroeder’s body to a friend to prove she had been killed. The other girl, also 15, then allegedly came over to help try to clean blood from the carpeting.

The next morning, the juveniles awoke and moved Peggy’s body from the living room to her bedroom, a sheriff’s detective claimed in court, the site reports.

The girls allegedly then spent the next two days trying to cover up the killing, according to local TV station KWQC.

A Guilty Conscience?

At one point on Friday, the girls walked to a nearby Subway for food, where Schroeder’s daughter vomited in a bathroom, the detective testified. The teen also learned her father, who was divorced from Schroeder, was coming to Morrison.

Both girls allegedly decided to run away and even dyed their hair Friday night, according to SaukValley.com. On Saturday morning, they allegedly set fire to the home and hid the murder weapon.

Witnesses called 911 to report the fire and that an off-duty fireman in the area had broken down the front door, where Schroeder’s remains were soon found.

The two girls had already parted ways. But, hours later and overwhelmed with guilt, the teen’s friend allegedly confessed to her mother, who brought her to the sheriff’s station, local radio station WIXN reports. The friend is also reportedly in custody at a local juvenile detention center, but she has not been charged.

Schroeder’s daughter was later taken for questioning after being found at her father’s home in Walnut, Illinois, about 35 miles away, according to SaukValley.com.

The sheriff’s detective testified Tuesday that the teen allegedly admitted to killing her mom — and to researching children who killed their parents.

‘The Most Amazing Family’

Schroeder and her ex-husband adopted their daughter on Jan. 19, 2005. The teen previously wrote in a Facebook post about her adoption anniversary: “It’s been 11 years since I was adopted by the most amazing family I could’ve ever gotten.”

About 8:35 p.m. on Saturday, apparently before she was taken into custody, the teen posted to her mother’s Facebook page, SaukValley.com reports. She wrote:

“I don’t even know if you can see me right now but if you can I just want you to know you were my best friend. There were so many things I wanted to say and do with you. I wasn’t always the best daughter and I’m so sorry. I love you so much mom I just want you to know and I’ll never forget you.”

Her post included two heart icons, according to the site.

Schroeder’s sister also took to Facebook to grieve, according to SaukValley.com, where she wrote, “It warms my heart to see all the love and beautiful words from all of [Peggy’s] friends.”

“Her life should not have ended like this,” the post continued. “She was definitely God’s angel and I guess it was time for her to go home to Him. She will forever be remembered forever as she touched many hearts while here on this earth.”