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Bodies found in suitcases along rural Wis. Road: Ex-cop charged

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The two decomposed female bodies found stuffed into suitcases in a rural Wisconsin roadside ditch earlier this month have been identified, along with a possible suspect. Steven Zelich, 52, who until recently was employed as a security officer - and formerly a police officer with the West Allis Police Department in West Allis, Wis. - was charged on June 26 with two felonies for hiding the two women's bodies.

One of those decomposed bodies was identified as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minn., according to Twin Cities News. Police have not yet released the identity of the second woman. Both of the bodies were badly decomposed. Police say that Zelich kept the bodies for over a year, shuffling them between his home and his car.

A criminal complaint filed in Walworth County, Wis. states that Simonson’s body was “found naked with a rope around her neck and a ball gag strapped in her mouth with a collar.” The other woman’s body was found with her hands tied behind her back.

Zelich confessed to detectives that he met both women online. Police theorize that the initial meetings most likely took place via a bondage website. Zelich confessed to killing the unidentified woman in “Kenosha County, Wis., in late 2012 or early 2013 and Simonson in Rochester, Minn., in November.”

Detective Sgt. Lee Hollatz with the Farmington Police Department was the main detective in charge of Simonson’s missing person case. Simonson was reported missing on Nov. 22, according to NBC News. Hollatz said that Zelich became the "No. 1 person” on his radar beginning in January. Zelich was arrested on June 25, “when detectives wearing hazmat suits removed large bags of evidence and a refrigerator from his apartment in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb.”

Hollatz said Simonson was identified within a day by her tattoos.

"I saw Laura as a vulnerable adult because of things in her life that she was dealing with," Hollatz said.

Zelich was scheduled to be back in a Wisconsin courtroom today to face his two felony hiding-a-corpse charges. Police say that homicide charges are forthcoming and will most likely be filed in the counties where the two women were murdered. For more on this bizarre story, see the video accompanying this article.


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