August 5, 2014 / 6:31 PM / 4 years ago

Wisconsin man charged with homicide in suitcase corpses case

KENOSHA Wis. (Reuters) - A former Wisconsin police officer accused of stuffing the bodies of two women into separate suitcases and dumping the luggage on a rural road was charged on Tuesday with first-degree intentional homicide in one of the cases.

Steven Zelich, 52, was charged in Kenosha County with killing an Oregon woman and hiding her corpse. Kenosha is one of the two counties where, authorities said, Zelich told police he had killed the women accidentally during sexual encounters.

“He may call it accidental. I call it murder,” Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf said.

Authorities believe Zelich met Jenny Gamez, 21, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, online and killed her during a bondage session at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, hotel in late 2012 or early 2013.

Authorities believe he also met Laura Simonson, 37, online. Simonson is believed to have died last November at a Rochester, Minnesota, hotel after meeting Zelich.

Zelich had not been charged in Simonson’s death as of Monday, said Mark Ostrem, the county attorney for Olmsted County, Minnesota, which includes Rochester.

The suitcases containing the bodies of Gamez and Simonson were found in Walworth County, Wisconsin, on June 5. Zelich was charged there with two felony counts of hiding a corpse.

Zelich is accused of keeping the bodies in the suitcases at his apartment in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb, and in the trunk of his vehicle before he dumped the luggage.

Bond was set at $2 million during a court appearance on Tuesday in Kenosha County.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by David Bailey, Sandra Maler and Mohammad Zargham

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