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Bodies in suitcases identified: Ex-cop confesses to killings, met women online

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An ex-cop is the chief suspect in the cases of two missing women in Wisconsin that earlier this month became murder investigations when their bodies were found in suitcases in the tall grass beside a Wisconsin highway. Both women have now been identified, authorities say, and the ex-cop, Steven M. Zelich, 52, has allegedly confessed to killing the two women after meeting them online.

The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) June 27 that Steven M. Zelich, a former West Allis, Wis., police officer-turned-security guard, told them that he had met his victims online, then bound and killed them. He also kept their bodies for months in two places -- either in his vehicle or his home.

Zelich told police, authorities told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, that he has had one of the bodies stowed in suitcase for over a year-and-a-half. He has been charged with two counts of hiding a corpse, but he has yet to be charged in the deaths of the two women.

Zelich was scheduled to appear in court Friday. Police expect charges to be brought against him for homicide.

Laura Simonson’s body was reportedly found naked with a rope tied around her neck and a ball gag strapped into her mouth with a collar. The other woman — not yet identified — was found in a garbage bag with her hands bound behind her back.

According to the criminal complaint (per the Washington Post) the unidentified woman was killed in Kenosha County in late 2012. Laura Simonson, a mother of seven children, was murdered, police believe, at a Microtel Inn and Suites in Rochester, Wisc. Witnesses say they saw Zelich with Simonson in November.

The complaint did not give details about how the women died or what the cause of death might have been.

Steven Zelich reportedly told police that he met both women online. Investigators believe he met Simonson via a bondage type website.

Zelich was forced to resign from the West Allis Police Department back in 2001, according to police sources (per the Journal-Sentinel), due to an off-duty altercation with a known prostitute. There is some question as to whether or not criminal charges should have been filed, but the Milwaukee County district attoriney's office never pressed for prosecution. He was originally hired as a patrol officer for West Allis in 1989.

The ex-cop was arrested Wednesday after an extensive investigation linked evidence found at the Microtel in Rochester to him. Police would not divulge details as to what that evidence might be.

A highway worker cutting high weeds alongside a country road outside the Town of Geneva, Wisc., discovered the suitcases in early June. But he just moved the two suitcase to the side of the road and kept on mowing the weeds.

A passing motorist called and reported the luggage by the roadside later that day. When Town of Geneva officer Eric Anderson responded, he found the female bodies stuffed inside the suitcases.

Both bodies were tranferred to be autopsied to the nearest medical examiner's office in Waukesha County, because Walworth County, where the bodies in the suitcases were actually found, does not have a medical examiner.

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