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Bodies in suitcases identified: Ex-cop met women online, kept bodies for months

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The two bodies found in suitcases discarded along a rural Wisconsin Road have been identified and an ex-cop confessed to authorities that he is the man who killed them. Steven M. Zelich of West Allis is believed to have met two women online then killed them and kept their bodies for some time before disposing of them in luggage along the road, according to Fox News on June 27.

Zelich is due to appear in court today facing two counts of hiding a corpse. He confessed to killing one of the women in Kenosha County, Wis. and the other in Rochester, Minn., but police have not yet charged him in these murders. Zelich is a former West Allis patrol officer who resigned 13 years ago.

Police have released the identity of one of the women, she was the missing Minn. Mother of seven, Laura Simonson. The identity of the second women is known to police, but they have not yet released that woman’s name.

Police say that the 52-year-old Zelich met the women online and he kept their bodies with him for months after he bound and killed them. He moved the bodies between his car and apartment through the months he held on to the corpses. He eventually dumped the two suitcases by the side of a road and they were found by a road crew mowing the lawn on a rural Wis. highway.

The road crew moved the suitcases to the roadside without opening them, then a motorist came along and spotted the luggage and called the police. It was a police officer who finally opened the luggage containing the gruesome contents. The sight was so gruesome that the officer was visibly shaken at the time.

NBC News today reports that Detective Sgt. Lee Hollatz said that the mother of seven was missing seven months when her remains were discovered inside the suitcase. He had considered Zelich, who is a former police officer, his top suspect since the beginning of this case.

Hollatz is a police detective in Twin Cities, a suburb of Farmington, Minn.. He said that Zelich was “the No. 1 person on his radar,” since January.

The Washington Post suggests this case is an excellent reminder of why you should be "wary of people you meet online." This looks to be a bondage-style killing, as Laura Simonson’s body was stuffed into the suitcase naked with “a rope tied around her neck and a ball gag strapped into her mouth with a collar.”

The other woman, who police have not identified as of yet, was found with her hands bound behind her and she was in a garbage bag. When Zelich spoke with police he told them he met the victims online and in at least one case it is believed it was through a bondage website.

Both women were killed at different times, months apart. The unidentified woman was killed a year and a half ago and he moved her body in that piece of luggage between his apartment and car.

Witnesses said that Simonson, 37, had stayed with Zelich at the Microtel Inn and Suites in Rochester, Minn. back in November, but Zelich checked out alone. Police believed that is the place where the mother of seven died. The other woman was killed in late 2012 or early 2013, Zelich told police.

When police arrested Zelich this week, they sent men in wearing hazmat suits to collect evidence from Zelich’s refrigerator at his apartment. While he is facing the corpse-hiding charges in court today, police expect to file homicide charges next.

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