MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin man charged with hiding the corpses of two women in suitcases has told investigators he was present when one of them died at a Minnesota hotel last year, authorities said on Thursday.
County prosecutors announced the two felony charges against Steven Zelich, 52, as an investigation continued into the deaths of the women, who were found in separate suitcases left in a grassy ditch along a rural Wisconsin road on June 5.
Authorities have identified one of the women as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota, who was last seen in November, and have tentatively identified the second woman, police said.
Rochester police believe Zelich and Simonson corresponded over the Internet and were together at hotel in the southeast Minnesota town where they believe she died in November, Rochester Police Lieutenant Casey Moilanen said.
“We feel that he was involved in her death here in Rochester,” Moilanen said. “When he was interviewed yesterday he admitted his involvement to investigators.”
Moilanen said Simonson, who was reported missing by her mother, did not die of natural causes.
Zelich was taken into custody and questioned on Wednesday by investigators, who searched his apartment in West Allis, a southern suburb of Milwaukee, police said.
He was charged with two felony counts of hiding a corpse in Walworth County, where the suitcases were found, District Attorney Daniel Necci said.
Zelich was being held in a jail in Walworth County, authorities said. A bond hearing was scheduled for Friday, according to online court records.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Bill Trott