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Local

Pretrial conference set next month for Rock Falls teen accused of arson, concealing homicide

Rachel Helm, 16, of Rock Falls, appears in Whiteside County Court Wednesday morning with her attorney, Jim Lancaster. She is charged with concealment of homicidal death and arson in the murder of Peggy Schroeder, 53, of Morrison, in July. Her girlfriend, Anna Schroeder, 15, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, concealment of homicidal death and arson. Investigators say she shot her mother in the head with a .38 revolver on July 6 in their Morrison home.
Rachel Helm, 16, of Rock Falls, appears in Whiteside County Court Wednesday morning with her attorney, Jim Lancaster. She is charged with concealment of homicidal death and arson in the murder of Peggy Schroeder, 53, of Morrison, in July. Her girlfriend, Anna Schroeder, 15, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, concealment of homicidal death and arson. Investigators say she shot her mother in the head with a .38 revolver on July 6 in their Morrison home.

Editor’s note: Although it is not illegal to do so, in general, it is the policy of Sauk Valley Media not to report the names of juvenile defendants. In this case, however, SVM is publishing their names because of the severity of the crimes.

MORRISON – The Rock Falls teen accused of attempting to cover up the murder of her girlfriend’s mother is scheduled for a pretrial conference next month.

Rachel Helm, 16, appeared in Whiteside County court Wednesday wearing a gray shirt with the words “Stay Strong” across it and with the sides of her head shaved and her top hair in a pony tail.

She is charged with concealment of homicidal death and arson, which carry sentences of 2 to 5 and 3 to 7 years, respectively, in the murder of Peggy Schroeder, 53, of Morrison, in July.

Circuit Judge Trish Joyce ruled last month that Helm be tried as an adult, and she will next appear in court at 1:30 p.m. June 27. Her trial is scheduled for July 17, but that date is likely to change.

Anna Schroeder, 15, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, concealment of homicidal death and arson, accused of shooting her mother in the head with a .38 revolver on July 6 in their Morrison home at 805 W. Park St. If convicted of murder as a minor, she could be imprisoned until she is 21; as an adult, the penalty is 6 to 30 years in prison, or more.

Helm admitted to going over to Anna’s house after Peggy was shot, helping move the body, spending all night attempting to clean up the blood and later starting two fires to conceal the crime, according to video of Helm’s police interview shown in court last month.

A hearing on the state’s motion to transfer Anna to adult court will be held June 12 and 13.

Both girls are being held at Mary Davis Detention Home in Galesburg and are ordered to be separated at all times.

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