Prosecutors in Milwaukee County say a former police officer has admitted killing two women and keeping their bodies hidden in suitcases for months.
Steven Zelich of West Allis, Wisconsin, was charged Thursday with two counts of hiding corpses and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.
The bodies were discovered in the suitcases on a roadside in the town of Geneva, Wisconsin, early this month. This week authorities identified one of them as Laura Simonson, 37, a Farmington, Minnesota, woman who was reported missing in November.
FOX 9 reports the complaint filed against Zelich says he has admitted he caused Simonson's death in a Rochester hotel room, stuffed her body into a suitcase, and kept it in his vehicle for months after returning to Wisconsin.
As for the body in the other suitcase – identified only as Jane Doe – prosecutors say she had been dead for more than a year and Zelich had kept her hidden in his home, the Associated Press reports.
The AP says investigators have interviewed people who stayed at the Microtel Inn and Suites in Rochester, where Simonson (right) checked in with Zelich. A Farmington police detective, Sgt. Lee Hollatz, told the wire service that Zelich has long been his "No. 1 person, by far, of interest" in Simonson's disappearance. But Hollatz added that it was considered a missing person's case until Simonson's body was identified.
Rochester police Capt. John Sherwin tells ABC 6 News it's rare for a corpse to be transported across state lines.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Zelich, 52, is a licensed private security officer who resigned from the West Allis police department in 2001. The station says Zelich has been linked to a Web forum on sadomasochism. Police said both women were naked and tied with ropes when they were discovered. Simonson was also gagged.
The Fox affiliate in Milwaukee, WITI, says investigators are looking into a report from a prostitute who was concerned enough about Zelich's behavior that she contacted police.
The Journal Sentinel spoke with Simonson's father, Richard Wierson of Northfield, who said his daughter had struggled with mental illness since adolescence. Wierson told the newspaper Simonson's seven children were placed in foster care with him in 2010.