Bodies found stuffed in suitcases and tossed along a rural highway in a quiet, corn field Wisconsin town have now been linked to an ex-cop, who investigators say may have met his victims – both female – via online sexual bondage sites. Detained and arrested was 52-year-old Steven Zelich, a former police and security officer, who admitted to killing the women.
On June 7, we brought you this story:
The bodies were found earlier this month by highway crews mowing down a grass-choked ditch along the roadside. The workers evidently moved the pair of suitcases to the side of the road in order to get their machines through, but did not open them. A passing motorist then drove by, stopped, opened the suitcases, and was horrified to find decaying bodies stuffed up inside each bag.
“It’s very abnormal,” Geneva Police Chief Steven Hurley said at the time. “It’s a very quiet town, a close-knit town. Everybody knows everybody else.”
Residents were shocked at the gruesome discovery. Farmer Jim Daily lives only a half mile from where the suitcases were found, coincidentally just a half mile as well from the police barracks. Daily’s road was blocked off, and police would not tell him why. He later learned of the grisly discovery from news outlets.
The 70-year-old said he didn’t “remember seeing anybody stopped or parked. We were as surprised as anybody else. It was a shock to all of us. You don’t like finding corpses in your neighborhood.”
Chief Hurley said the suitcases were opened by 10-year veteran officer Eric Anderson of the Geneva department. Hurley described Anderson’s reactions: “I talked to him, and he said he had to step back a minute and take a deep breath and collect his thoughts, but he handled it very professionally and continued to do his job.”
According to a report from The Associated Press, one of the women has been identified. Killed and then stuffed in the suitcase was Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota. The identity of the other woman has not yet been released. Investigators said it appeared that the bodies had been dead for well over one year.
Per the AP report:
Steven Zelich was charged Thursday with two counts of hiding a corpse. He was arrested the day before, when detectives wearing hazmat suits removed large, brown bags of evidence and a refrigerator from his apartment in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb.
Simonson was found naked with a rope around her neck and a ball gag strapped in her mouth with a collar, according to the criminal complaint filed in Walworth County, Wisconsin. The other woman's hands were bound behind her back.
Police reports show that Zelich killed the unidentified women, who is described as a white female with long, dark hair and a small heart tattoo on her stomach, sometime in 2012 or early 2013, and then killed Simonson later that year.
The Washington Post said this story is another “reason to be leery of people you meet online.”