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 his vehicle for months.
That’s according to police and a criminal complaint filed Thursday in southeastern 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, and 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
ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Rochester Police Department addressed the media Thursday morning and released more details in the case involving bodies found in suitcases in Wisconsin.
First, authorities say the unidentified victim who was detailed in a sketch, has been temporarily identified. However, the individual is not from the local area and they believe she was not killed in Minnesota.
Most of the facts discussed during the press briefing related to the death of Laura Simonson in Rochester. Simonson was reported missing November 22, 2013, but was last seen alive in Rochester November 2, 2013. That’s when employees of the Microtel Inn in Rochester say they saw her with Steven Zelich. Zelich was recently arrested in Wisconsin in connection to the death of the two women and has been charged with two counts of hiding a corpse.
Authorities say Zelich and Simonson checked into the Microtel Inn together on November 2nd. Simonson wasn’t seen alive after that, but Zelich checked out alone the following day on November 3rd.
The Rochester Police Department was originally contacted about the case by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation on June 10th. They went to the Microtel Inn June 12th, seven months after Zelich and Simonson were there, and found evidence, although what was found was not disclosed.
After evidence was found, authorities say Zelich was questioned about Simonson’s disappearance and confessed to “being involved” in her death. “We are obviously treating Laura as a victim and regardless of her circumstance in life, no one deserves to die in the hands of another,” Captain of Investigations with the Rochester Police Department John Sherwin said.
During their investigation, officers found Zelich was involved in bondage websites, and are investigating if Laura Simonson had any involvement as well. Police say the two were involved in an online relationship of some kind.
Rochester PD also mentioned they were told by other investigators that Zelich is a former police officer, which could make the investigation more difficult.
“It’s a complicated case, we have the death of two individuals at the hands of one person. It encompasses several states and several jurisdictions. It takes time to investigate cases, it’s not like TV,” Sherwin said. “This is a very fluid and active investigation. We are by no means done with everything, we still have more people to interview and talk to and more follow up to do,” Lt. Casey Moilanen with the Rochester Police Department said.
We’ll have more from the press briefing later today on KIMT News 3.