UPDATE: Former officer to enter plea in suitcase slaying


UPDATED Monday, August 18, 2014 --- 7:37 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer accused of killing two women and hiding their remains in a pair of suitcases is due back in a Kenosha County courtroom.

Steven Zelich is expected to enter a plea Monday to charges of first-degree homicide and hiding a corpse in the death of Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon.

A criminal complaint says the 52-year-old former West Allis officer killed the 19-year-old college student during a sexual choking game and then hid her body in his home and car for months before dumping it in Walworth County in early June.

Zelich also is a suspect in the death of a Farmington, Minnesota, woman. Her remains were found in a second suitcase also found by highway workers in Walworth County.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
_________________________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, August 5, 2014 -- 3:45 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) -- A former Wisconsin police officer says he killed a 19-year-old college student accidentally during a choking game that went too far.

A criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Kenosha provides new details in the death of Jenny Gamez, a 19-year-old college student from Cottage Grove, Oregon.

The complaint charges 52-year-old Steven Zelich with first-degree intentional homicide, the equivalent of murder in Wisconsin.

Zelich told investigators Gamez's death was an accident. But District Attorney Robert Zapf says it's hard to believe Zelich killed two women accidentally in similar circumstances.

Gamez's body and that of 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota, were found in suitcases left along a rural Wisconsin highway in June.

Investigators say Zelich told them he met both women online and killed them during separate meetings for sex and bondage.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Tuesday, August 5, 2014 --- 1:31 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in the death of one of two women whose bodies were found stuffed in suitcases left along a Wisconsin highway.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich was charged Tuesday in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, in the death of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, a college student from Oregon.

Zelich already faced two charges of hiding a corpse in Walworth County, Wisconsin, where highway workers cutting grass discovered the suitcases containing the bodies of Gamez and 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minnesota.

A Walworth County detective testified previously that Zelich told investigators he killed the women accidentally during rough sex, hid their bodies in suitcases kept in his home and car and dropped them in Walworth County when they began to smell.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Monday, August 4, 2014 --- 2:11 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- More charges are coming in the case of a former police officer accused of hiding two bodies in suitcases left along a rural Wisconsin highway.

The attorney for Steven Zelich says he is due in court Tuesday afternoon in Kenosha County.

Attorney Jonathan Smith says Zelich is scheduled for an initial appearance, where his client will learn the charges against him. Smith says he doesn't know yet what those charges are.

The 52-year-old Zelich has been charged with hiding a corpse in Walworth County, where the bodies were found in early June.

Walworth County officials said previously that one woman, 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, died in Kenosha County and they expected to see homicide charges filed there.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Thursday, July 17, 2014 --- 2:13 p.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- The lawyer for a former police officer accused of hiding the bodies of two women who died during rough sex in suitcases left along a rural road says his client had encounters involving bondage with many other women as well.

Walworth County Public Defender Travis Schwantes says 52-year-old Steven Zelich had many relationships online and in person with many women. He says some involved bondage and some did not.

Schwantes entered a plea of not guilty for Zelich on Thursday to two charges of hiding a corpse.

Schwantes says Zelich maintains the deaths of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez and 37-year-old Laura Simonson were accidental.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, July 17, 2014 --- 1:23 p.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer suspected in the deaths of two women has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to hide their bodies in suitcases dumped along a rural Wisconsin road.

The plea was entered for 52-year-old Steven Zelich Thursday in Walworth County, where the bodies were found June 5.

His attorney, Travis Schwantes, has said the charges might not hold up because prosecutors must show that the former West Allis officer tried to conceal a crime. Schwantes says Zelich claims he killed the women accidentally during sexual encounters. A detective testified Zelich said it happened during bondage.

The Walworth County prosecutor has said he expects homicide charges to be filed in the counties where Jenny Gamez of Cottage Grove, Oregon, and Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota, died.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

__________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, July 17, 2014 --- 6:46 a.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer charged with dumping two bodies hidden in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin road is due in court to enter a plea.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich is scheduled for a plea hearing in Walworth County Circuit Court Thursday on two counts of hiding a corpse.

Zelich's public defender, Travis Schwantes, says the charges of hiding a corpse might not stand up because prosecutors would have to show the former West Allis officer tried to cover up a crime. Schwantes says Zelich claims he killed the two women in the suitcases accidentally during sexual encounters.

Authorities say homicide charges are expected to be filed in the counties where the women died. The bodies of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, and 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minnesota, were found in the suitcases by highway workers June 5.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
___________________________________________________________

UPDATED Saturday, July 12, 2014 -- 1:44 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The police chief in West Allis says it seems like there were clear warning signs about a former police officer now suspected the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in suitcases dumped along a rural road about 50 miles away.

But Chief Charles Padgett says the signs of coming violence are only clear in hindsight.

Padgett was a detective when Steven Zelich was forced to resign following a 2001 internal investigation that determined Zelich has been stalking women while on duty.

Padgett says the violent end to Zelich's "very unique" story has saddened his department.

He says he and other officers keep thinking about the families of the women who died. He says he feels for them and the loss they are trying to deal with.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
______________________________________________________

UPDATED Saturday, July 12, 2014 -- 1:21 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Police records show the suspect in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in suitcases dumped on a rural Wisconsin road had abused his authority as a police officer by selling cellphone service while on duty.

Steven Zelich came under suspicion in 2001 after a struggle with a prostitute. An internal investigation by the West Allis Police Department determined he was stalking women while on duty. It also found Zelich tried to sell many of those women phone service as part of a side business he had with another officer.

Greg Peterson is president of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group, which sets standards for police agencies. He says the Zelich case is unusual but shows what can happen if departments don't have clear policies on side jobs.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
______________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, July 9, 2014 --- 2:27 p.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- Records show the suspect in the deaths of two women whose bodies were stuffed into suitcases dumped along a rural Wisconsin highway had been accused of stalking multiple women and resigned his job as a police officer to avoid discipline.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse. Authorities say he is a suspect in the deaths, though no homicide charges have been filed.

Records obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press show Zelich resigned from the West Allis Police Department in August 2001 to avoid a public hearing or charges of unbecoming conduct and abuse of position, among other things.

Several women told police Zelich pestered them for dates and used his position to get their home numbers and other personal information.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

____________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, July 8, 2014 --- 12:21 p.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- Newly released records show that a former Wisconsin police officer charged with dumping two bodies stuffed into suitcases along a highway had a lengthy disciplinary record, including three suspensions and four reprimands.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse in Walworth County. Authorities say he's also a suspect in the women's deaths, although no homicide charges have been filed.

Zelich worked for the West Allis Police Department from February 1989 until he resigned in August 2001.

Records obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press show he was suspended twice in 2001 for lying -- for 20 days in May and two days in April.

He also received a one-day suspension in 1996 for failing to report an accident in which he was involved while on duty.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

_______________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday July 3, 2014 -- 1:31 p.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- A detective in Wisconsin says a former police officer told him that he killed two women during rough sex and then put their bodies in suitcases that he hid for months before dumping them in rural Wisconsin.

Walworth County Sheriff's Detective Jeffrey Recknagel testified Thursday during a preliminary hearing for 52-year-old Steven Zelich.

Zelich is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse after the suitcases were found June 5, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Walworth County authorities have said the women were killed elsewhere and they expect homicide charges to be filed in those other counties.

Recknagel says Zelich told him he killed the women accidentally after separate sexual encounters that were rough and included bondage.

Zelich's public defender has said the deaths may have been accidents.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

---------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Thursday, July 3, 2014 -- 11:08 a.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- A detective in Wisconsin says a former police officer told him that he killed two women during rough sex and then put their bodies in suitcases that he hid for months before dumping them in rural Wisconsin.

Walworth County Sheriff's Detective Jeffrey Recknagel testified Thursday during a preliminary hearing for 52-year-old Steven Zelich.

Zelich is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse after the suitcases were found June 5, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Walworth County authorities have said the women were killed elsewhere and they expect homicide charges to be filed in those other counties.

Recknagel says Zelich told him he killed the women accidentally after separate sexual encounters that were rough and included bondage.

Zelich's public defender has said the deaths may have been accidents.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
____________________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday July 3, 2014 -- 8:46 a.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer suspected in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in suitcases left along a rural Wisconsin highway is expected in court Thursday.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich, of West Allis, is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse in Walworth County, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors generally summarize their evidence and allegations.

It will be Zelich's first court appearance. He made his initial appearance via video on Friday.

Walworth County officials have said they expect Zelich to eventually face homicide charges in the counties where the women were killed. Zelich told investigators one woman died in Rochester, Minnesota, and the other in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 2:53 p.m.

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (AP) -- The foster mother of an Oregon woman whose remains were found in a suitcase dropped along a rural road in Wisconsin says she hadn't heard from her foster daughter for more than a year.

Lorraine Ericksen, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, told The Associated Press on Monday that she's been in shock since police came to her house Friday to look at hair samples.

Wisconsin authorities say Jenny Gamez is the second of two women whose bodies were found June 5 in Town of Geneva, about an hour southwest of Milwaukee. A 52-year-old security officer has been arrested in connection with their deaths.

Ericksen says Gamez was an upbeat teenager who had a hard time after giving up her son to his father several years earlier.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

_________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 2:17 p.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin authorities say they've identified the second of two women whose bodies were stuffed in suitcases found along a rural highway as a 19-year-old Oregon woman.

Police identified the woman Monday as Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Local investigators say she disappeared in 2012.

The suitcases were found on June 5 in the Town of Geneva, Wisconsin. Police Chief Steven Hurley says Gamez had told her family she was moving, so they didn't realize she had disappeared.

Walworth County Undersheriff Kurt Picknell says Gamez was identified with dental records. He declined to say how investigators made the link between the remains found in Wisconsin and her disappearance.

Investigators have charged 52-year-old Steven Zelich with two counts of hiding a corpse in the case. Authorities say he met both women online.

_________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 1:33 p.m

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities in Wisconsin have confirmed that a missing Oregon woman is one of the two people whose bodies were found stuffed in suitcases and dumped along a rural highway.

Twenty-one-year-old Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove (Oregon State), disappeared in 2012. Officials confirmed at a news conference in Elkhorn that the remains were hers.

Steven Zelich, a 52-year-old security officer, was arrested last week and charged with two counts of hiding a corpse after highway workers found two suitcases with human remains. They made the grisly discover while cutting grass in Walworth County, Wisconsin, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

The other body was identified earlier as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

____________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 9:03 a.m.

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- A body found in a suitcase discarded along a rural highway in Wisconsin may be that of a missing Oregon woman.

KEZI-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1nWDNvA ) that police in Cottage Grove, Oregon, are looking into whether the body belongs to Jenny Gamez, who disappeared in 2012.

Cottage Grove police Cpl. Conrad Gagner tells the television station his department is working with Wisconsin authorities to obtain Gamez's dental records.

A former Wisconsin police officer was arrested last week and charged with hiding a corpse after two bodies were found in suitcases in Walworth County, Wisconsin. A criminal complaint says 52-year-old Steven Zelich met the women online, killed them and hid their bodies for months.

A Walworth County prosecutor says he expects homicide charges to be filed where the women were killed.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

________________________________________

UPDATED Sunday, June 29, 2014 --- 7:19 p.m.

Story from our news partner WITI in Milwaukee:

WALWORTH COUNTY (WITI/AP) — Kenosha police are saying a woman whose body was one of two found in suitcases in the Town of Geneva on June 5th is not believed to be from the Kenosha area. Meanwhile, the murder mystery that began in the Town of Geneva could now span three states.

A criminal complaint against former West Allis police officer Steven Zelich says Zelich told investigators he caused the death of the woman, who hasn’t yet been positively identified, in late 2012 or early 2013 in Kenosha County.

The second woman has been identified as 37-year-old Laura Simonson.

The complaint against Zelich says he told authorities Simonson died in Rochester, Minnesota in November of 2013.

Zelich has been charged with two counts of hiding a corpse.

WITI is learning authorities in Oregon state think they know the identity of the first woman.

Last week, Town of Geneva police issued a sketch and description of this woman.

She is described as possibly Caucasian, between the ages of 15 to 35, 5’2” to 5’4” tall, weighing 120 – 140 pounds with long, straight dark brown or black hair. She has a pronounced overbite and crooked lower teeth, two piercings in each ear, and a quarter sized heart tattoo on the lower left abdomen/pelvic area.

An Oregon state family says the sketch and description are familiar to them.

A news station in Eugene, Oregon says this unidentified woman may be a missing Oakridge, Oregon mother.

According to their report, the Cottage Grove Police Department is working with authorities in Wisconsin to get dental records for Jenny Gamez — who disappeared in 2012.

In the criminal complaint filed against him, Steven Zelich told officials he met the unidentified woman while chatting online in 2012.

They met in person in late 2012 or early 2013 in Kenosha County, and Zelich told officials he caused this woman’s death during that meeting, according to the complaint.

The complaint says when the woman was found, inside the suitcase in the Town of Geneva, her hands were bound with rope behind her back.

The report out of Oregon state claims Gamez’ foster mother says investigators told her Zelich met his victims on an online dating website, and that sexually-deviant content was found on Gamez’ computer.

The unidentified woman is the first victim. The other is 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota.

When her body was discovered in the suitcase in the Town of Geneva, the complaint against Zelich says she was found with a rope wrapped around her neck, and a sexual ball gag strapped into her mouth with a collar. She was found naked.

Simonson was reported missing by her mother in November of 2013.

The complaint against Zelich says he told police he put the bodies into suitcases — hiding the unidentified woman at his home in West Allis, and later in his vehicle. The suitcase with Simonson’s body inside was hidden in Zelich’s vehicle, according to the complaint.

It wasn’t until the first week in June that Zelich says he took the suitcases to the Town of Geneva, according to the complaint.

They were found off the road in tall grass on June 5th.

Zelich made his first appearance in court in Walworth County through a video monitor in jail Friday, June 27th.

Zelich was ordered held on a $1 million bond on the two counts of hiding a corpse.

______________________________________________

UPDATED Saturday, June 28, 2014 -- 2:24 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) -- Kenosha police say a woman whose body was one of two found in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin road is not believed to be from the Kenosha area.

An ex-West Allis police officer was charged in Walworth County Thursday with two counts of hiding a corpse.

The criminal complaint says Steven Zelich told investigators he killed one in late 2012 or early 2013 in Kenosha County, and the other in November in Rochester, Minnesota. Authorities have not identified the first, but say the second was 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota.

Kenosha Police Sgt. Brad Hetlet tells the Kenosha News (http://bit.ly/VvYvfl ) his department is working with other agencies to confirm whether the first victim was killed in Kenosha. But he says she's not believed to be from the Kenosha area.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

___________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, June 27, 2014 --- 5:46 p.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer suspected in the deaths of two women whose bodies were stuffed into suitcases and dumped along a rural Wisconsin road resigned from his department a few months after an incident involving a prostitute.

That's according to records the West Allis Police Department released Friday.

A police report says a woman told officers in May 2001 that she met Steven Zelich in a bar, went home with him and tried to flee when she thought she heard him get out handcuffs.

The report says Zelich said the woman tried to steal from him and their struggle was his attempt to get the money back.

Zelich resigned from the department in August 2001.

His attorney, Travis Schwantes, said he had not seen the report and could not comment.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, June 27, 2014 --- 2:11 p.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- Bond has been set at $1 million for a former police officer suspected of killing two women and hiding their bodies in suitcases dumped in rural Wisconsin.

A judge set the cash bond during a hearing Friday for 52-year-old Steven Zelich, agreeing with prosecutors that it was needed to protect the public.

Zelich, who lives in West Allis, Wisconsin, was charged Thursday with two counts of hiding a corpse in Walworth County. He appeared on video for the hearing but didn't speak.

Zelich's lawyer, Travis Schwantes, asked for a far lower bond, noting his client hasn't been charged with homicide.

But District Attorney Daniel Necci says he expects homicide charges to be filed where the women were killed. Investigators allege the women were killed elsewhere in Wisconsin and in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

__________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, June 27, 2014 --- 7:41 a.m.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- An ex-police officer suspected in the deaths of two women whose bodies were found stuffed into suitcases is scheduled to appear Friday in court in Wisconsin.

Steven M. Zelich of West Allis, Wisconsin, is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse.

A criminal complaint says Zelich told investigators he killed one woman in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, and the second in Rochester, Minnesota. He hasn't yet been charged in their deaths.

Authorities say the 52-year-old Zelich met his victims online, bound and killed them and kept their bodies for months.

A Walworth County public defender said he most likely would represent Zelich but declined to comment.

One victim was Laura Simonson, a Minnesota mother of seven. Authorities have not released the identity of the second woman.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 5:35 p.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities say a former police officer charged with stuffing the remains of two women in suitcases he left along a Wisconsin road met his victims online, bound and killed them and carried their bodies around in his vehicle for months.

That's according to police and a criminal complaint filed Thursday in Wisconsin. It charges 52-year-old Steven Zelich, of West Allis, with two counts of hiding a corpse.

The complaint says Zelich killed one woman in Wisconsin in late 2012 or early 2013 and the other in Minnesota last November. It says he hid the first body in his home, then later stored it with the second body in his vehicle.

Both women were found bound, and their bodies had started to decompose. One had a ball gag in her mouth

______________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 4:12 p.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer has been charged with hiding a corpse after the bodies of two women were found stuffed in suitcases deposited along a rural road in Wisconsin.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich was charged Thursday in Walworth County, which is southwest of Milwaukee.

He was arrested Wednesday, when detectives wearing hazmat suits removed large, brown bags of evidence and a refrigerator from his apartment in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.

Police in Minnesota say Zelich is a suspect in the death of a 37-year-old Farmington, Minnesota, woman whose remains were in the suitcase.

He has not been charged in her death, however.

Investigators have not yet identified the second woman whose remains were in the suitcases.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

_________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 4:10 p.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- West Allis police say the man arrested this week in connection with a Minnesota woman's death was a former West Allis patrol officer who resigned 13 years ago.

Police Chief Charles Padgett said in a statement Thursday the 52-year-old was appointed to his position in 1989. The man worked for 12 years and resigned in 2001.

The statement doesn't elaborate on why the man resigned. Padgett says he's not at liberty to release further details.

The man was arrested Wednesday on charges of hiding a corpse. He's due in court Friday.

Two female bodies were found in separate suitcases on June 5 in the Town of Geneva, some 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee. Police identified one victim as a 37-year-old from Farmington, Minnesota. They're still trying to identify the other.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 11:32 a.m.

From our news partner WITI in Milwaukee:

ROCHESTER, Minn. (WITI) — The Rochester Police Department held a briefing Thursday morning, June 26th, during which time they released new information about the deaths of two women who were found in suitcases in the Town of Geneva on June 5th.

The two bodies were found in suitcases sitting along the side of N. Como Rd, east of Co. Rd. H.

Town of Geneva police say one of the victims has been identified as 37-year-old Laura Simonson from Farmington, Minnesota. The second victim has been tentatively identified.

52-year-old Steven Zelich, a former West Allis police officer, has been taken into custody in connection with the death investigation.

According to Rochester police, Zelich confessed to being involved in Simonson’s death following his arrest. At this time, Minnesota authorities believe Zelich was also involved in the second victim’s death.

Zelich is currently being held at the Walworth County Jail on two counts of hiding a corpse.

A missing persons investigation initiated by the Farmington Police Department has determined Simonson was last seen alive in Rochester on November 2nd.

The Rochester Police Department says it became aware of the incident involving the suitcases and the missing persons investigation into Simonson on June 10th, when they were contacted by officials in Wisconsin.

On June 12th, investigators scoured a Rochester, Minnesota motel — gathering information. This, after motel employees recognized Simonson from the missing persons report, and contacted police.

During the course of their investigation, officials discovered that Zelich and Simonson checked into the Microtel Inn on November 2nd. On November 3rd, Zelich checked out of the hotel without Simonson.

On June 12th, the Rochester Crime Scene Unit and the Minnesota BCA processed the motel room for traces of evidence.

On June 24th authorities discovered physical evidence that connected Zelich to the bodies of Simonson and the unidentified female.

At this time, officials believe Simonson may have been killed in Rochester, as she was not seen again following her stay at the Microtel Inn.

Rochester police say Zelich and Simonson were known acquaintances that had a previous relationship through the Internet. It is unknown at this time when the two first met.

Rochester police also confirmed that they are currently investigating Zelich’s possible involvement with bondage websites.

The suitcases containing the bodies were discovered on June 5th by a Town of Geneva Highway Department employee who was cutting grass in the area of N. Como Road, east of Co. Rd. H.

The suitcases were opened by Town of Geneva police, and the bodies were discovered inside.

Anyone that may have additional information should contact the Town of Geneva Police Department at 262-248-9926.

______________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 10:30 a.m.

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) -- The West Allis man arrested in connection with human remains found in two suitcases is being held in the Walworth County Jail.

Walworth County Circuit Court officials say the 52-year-old man is expected to appear in court Friday. He's being held on two counts of hiding a corpse.

The county's district attorney, Daniel Necci, says formal charges are not expected Thursday because he hasn't yet received the case from investigators.

The private security officer was arrested Wednesday when detectives wearing hazmat suits removed bags of evidence and a refrigerator from his suburban Milwaukee apartment.

Authorities say the remains of 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minnesota, and another unidentified female were found June 5 in two suitcases discarded along a rural road in the Town of Geneva.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

__________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday June 26, 2014 --- 9:35a.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis --- The man arrested in connection with two female bodies found in suitcases is not expected in court today.

Steven Zelich has been booked on two counts of hiding a corpse. He will not got to court today. Zelich is a former police officer.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Thursday, June 26, 2014 --- 7:30 a.m.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- Detectives wearing hazmat suits removed bags of evidence and a refrigerator from the suburban Milwaukee apartment of a man arrested in connection with two suitcases found stuffed with the remains of two women.

Prosecutors have not charged the 52-year-old security officer. Investigators searched his West Allis home Wednesday.

Highway workers discovered the suitcases June 5 on a rural highway in the Town of Geneva, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Police have identified one of the women found in the suitcases as 37-year-old Laura Simonson who was reported missing in November. Her father, Richard Wierson, tells the Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1nKqDlo ) that the Farmington, Minnesota woman struggled with mental illness and that he has cared for her seven children since 2010.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, June 25, 2014 --- 5:43 p.m.

TOWN OF GENEVA, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin police have arrested a 52-year-old man almost three weeks after human remains were found in suitcases, and investigators identified one victim as a missing Minnesota woman.

Town of Geneva police Chief Steven Hurley said in a statement the man was arrested Wednesday. The news release didn't elaborate on the man's suspected role.

Hurley says one of the victims was Laura Simonson, a 37-year-old from Farmington, Minnesota. Her mother reported her missing around Thanksgiving.

The other female victim hasn't been identified. Police say she appeared to be between the ages of 15 and 35, with a quarter-sized heart tattoo on her lower left abdomen.

Highway workers found the two suitcases June 5 in the Town of Geneva, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee. There was one body in each.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

______________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday June 25, 2014 --- 4:30 p.m.

TOWN OF GENEVA, Wis.--- An arrest has been made in a bizarre Walworth County criminal case.

Town of Geneva police say they have arrested 52-year old Steven M. Zelich of West Allis, WI.

They say he is connected to two bodies found on June 5th inside suitcases.

One of the women has been identified as 37-year-old Laura Simonson, from Farmington, MN. Her mother reported Simonson missing on November.

The other woman has not been identified yet. She is described as white, between the age of 15-35 and between 5'2" - 5"4" tall. The victim weighed between 120-140 pounds. She had two piercings in each ear and a quarter-sized tattoo on her lower left abdomen/pelvic area.

Anyone with information on the identity of the second victim or additional information on the case should call the Town of Geneva Police Dept. at 262-248-9926.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED: Monday, June 9, 2014 --- 1:00 p.m.

Town of Geneva -- Autopsies were completed over the weekend at the Waukesha County Medical Examiner's Office on the two bodies discovered Friday in suitcases on North Como Road.

The autopsies determined that both bodies were females. One was an adult, the second appears to be an adult but is subject to further verification.

The investigation is on-going. Authorities say, this is an isolated incident and the crime did not occur where the bodies were found.

______________________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 10:45 a.m.

TOWN OF GENEVA, Wis. (AP) -- Police say two suitcases containing the remains of two people have been found in long grass near a road in southeastern Wisconsin.

City police chief Steven Hurley says a highway worker came across the cases Thursday as he mowed the grass in Town of Geneva, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee. Another person alerted police officers who opened the cases and discovered the bodies inside.

Hurley says it appears there was a body in each suitcase, but he wouldn't comment on the condition of the remains. He says it doesn't appear that the victims were killed at the location where the suitcases were found.

The Waukesha County Medical Examiner's Office is conducting autopsies.

Investigators are checking with other law enforcement agencies for reports of missing people.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

____________________________________

UPDATED Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 10:01 a.m.

From our news partner WITI in Milwaukee:

TOWN OF GENEVA (WITI) — Town of Geneva police tell WITI News they’re dealing with a death investigation.

Law enforcement officials were on the scene near Lake Como on Thursday, June 5th. Town of Geneva Police Chief Steve Hurley tells FOX6 News the discovery was made around 3:00 p.m. Several roads were shut down along Como Road near Lake Como as officials worked the scene.

The Waukesha County Medical Examiner tells FOX6 News they will be performing two autopsies on Friday, June 6th. The Waukesha County Medical Examiner is handling the autopsies for the Walworth County Coroner.

Police say this investigation is considered criminal — but police say that is routine when dealing with a death investigation.

Chief Hurley tells WITI News this is the first death investigation to occur in this community in years. Chief Hurley says this is an isolated incident.

No one is in custody — and it is unclear whether police are searching for anyone at this time.

______________________________________________

Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 6:04 a.m.

TOWN OF GENEVA, Wis. (AP) -- Police in Walworth County are investigating the deaths of two people.

Authorities say the bodies were found in the Town of Geneva Thursday, about a half mile from the police station.

Autopsies are expected to be done Friday. No other details were immediately released.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
NBC15 615 Forward Drive Madison, Wisconsin 53711 Business: 608-274-1515 Newsroom: 608-274-1500
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 262099641 - nbc15.com/a?a=262099641