More charges expected in Wisconsin suitcase deaths

August 4, 2014 - 4:04 PM

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A prosecutor said Monday that he expects to file more charges against a man accused of dumping suitcases along a rural Wisconsin highway that contained the bodies of two women.

Steven Zelich, 52, of West Allis, has been scheduled for an initial appearance Tuesday in Kenosha County court, said his attorney, Jonathan Smith. Smith said Monday that he doesn't know what the charges will be and will find out at the hearing.

Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf confirmed that he expects to file charges during the hearing, but he didn't say which charges.

Zelich, a former West Allis police officer, has been charged with hiding a corpse in Walworth County, where the bodies were found in early June. Walworth County officials have said they expect homicide charges to be filed in the counties where the women died.

Zelich met the women in online chat rooms and set up separate dates for sex at hotels, where he said he accidentally killed them at the end of bondage sessions, Walworth County Sheriff's Detective Jeffrey Recknagel testified in June. Zelich told investigators that Jenny Gamez, a 19-year-old college student from Cottage Grove, Oregon, died in a Kenosha County hotel in 2012. Kenosha, the county seat, is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.

The other woman, Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota, died in a Rochester, Minnesota, hotel in November, investigators said. No charges have been filed yet in Minnesota.

Recknagel testified that Zelich hid the women's bodies in suitcases that he stored in his home and car until early June, when they began to smell. He left the suitcases in Walworth County, about an hour southwest of Milwaukee, where highway workers cutting grass found them on June 5.

Zelich worked for the police department in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis from February 1989 until his resignation in August 2001, following an internal investigation that found he stalked women while on duty and used his position to get access to their personal information. His resignation allowed him to avoid discipline and pass state background checks for a private security officer's license. He was working as a licensed private security officer when he was arrested June 25.