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Ex-police officer pleads not guilty to killing woman, hiding body in suitcase

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A former police officer accused of hiding the bodies of two women in suitcases which were found along a rural Wisconsin road in June, pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the death of one of the women.

Steven Zelich, 52, entered a not guilty plea to first-degree homicide and hiding the corpse of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez of Cottage Grove, Oregon, in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, court Monday, WITI reports. Gamez is believed to have died in Kenosha County in 2012.

He had waived a preliminary hearing Friday in Gamez's death, WTAQ reports.

Zelich said he met both Gamez and 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minnesota, whose body was also found in a suitcase, online and arranged to meet them. In early July, an official testified that Zelich admitted he killed the two women accidentally during separate sexual encounters, which included bondage.

Prosecutors say he then hid the women’s bodies in suitcases for months before dumping them in Geneva, Wisconsin, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Last month, Zelich had pleaded not guilty to charges in Walworth County, Wisconsin, that he intentionally hid the bodies. He has a status hearing scheduled with that case on Sept. 23.

Homicide charges are filed in the counties where the two women died. Gamez is believed to have died in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Simonson in Rochester, Minnesota. Charges are expected out of Olmsted County, Minnesota, in Simonson's death.

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