Man charged with murder in MN for killing woman, hiding body in suitcase


A former Wisconsin police officer was charged Friday with murder in Minnesota for killing a woman in a Rochester hotel room and stashing her body in a suitcase that he dumped on a rural Wisconsin highway in June 2014.

Steven Zelich, 54, of West Allis, Wisconsin, also faces murder charges in Wisconsin for killing another woman and disposing of her body in a similar fashion.

Zelich was charged in Olmsted County District Court last year with hiding a corpse. Now he's charged with first-degree murder, second-degree intentional murder, and unintentional murder in the second degree while committing a felony offense, in the death of 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, KSTP reports.

According to the criminal complaint, Zelich told police he met both Simonson and Jenny Gamez – a 19-year-old from Cottage Grove, Oregon – online and arranged to meet them.

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 along a rural highway in Geneva, Wisconsin, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Police said both women were naked and tied with ropes when they were discovered. Simonson was also gagged.

Simonson's family reported her missing on Nov. 22, 2013. Police believe she was killed a few weeks earlier.

Gamez was killed in 2012. Zelich is scheduled to stand trial on first-degree intentional homicide Jan. 25 in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, where her death occurred, according to KSTP. He is currently being held in Wisconsin.

Court proceedings in Minnesota will not take place until Zelich's trial in Wisconsin is complete, according to ABC 6 News.

Zelich is a licensed private security officer who resigned from the West Allis police department in 2001.

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