NEW INFORMATION: Woman in suitcase not from Kenosha area

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) -- Kenosha police say a woman whose body was one of two found in suitcases along a rural Wisconsin road is not believed to be from the Kenosha area.

An ex-West Allis police officer was charged in Walworth County Thursday with two counts of hiding a corpse. The criminal complaint says Steven Zelich told investigators he killed one in late 2012 or early 2013 in Kenosha County, and the other in November in Rochester, Minnesota. Authorities have not identified the first, but say the second was 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota.

Kenosha Police Sgt. Brad Hetlet tells the Kenosha News (http://bit.ly/VvYvfl ) his department is working with other agencies to confirm whether the first victim was killed in Kenosha. But he says she's not believed to be from the Kenosha area.

------

Information from: Kenosha News, http://www.kenoshanews.com

AP-WF-06-28-14 1603GMT

-----------------

Authorities say a former police officer charged with stuffing the remains of two women in suitcases he left along a Wisconsin road met his victims online, bound and killed them and carried their bodies around in his vehicle for months.

That's according to police and a criminal complaint filed Thursday in southeastern Wisconsin. It charges 52-year-old Steven Zelich, of West Allis, with two counts of hiding a corpse.

The complaint says Zelich killed one woman in Wisconsin in late 2012 or early 2013 and the other in Minnesota last November. It says he hid the first body in his home and then later stored it with the second body in his vehicle.

Both women were found bound, and their bodies had started to decompose. One had a ball gag in her mouth.
------------------------------------------------
Previous stories:

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- A security firm says a former police officer arrested this week in connection with a Minnesota woman's death passed background checks every two years to renew his private security license.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich was charged Thursday with two counts of hiding a corpse after the remains of two women were found stuffed into suitcases deposited along a rural road in Wisconsin.

Securitas Security Services USA says Zelich has worked for that company since July 2007. It says he received his private security license from the state of Wisconsin before he was hired and passed criminal background checks every two years to renew his license.

The company says Zelich's employment records "reflect no extraordinary or remarkable incidents."

Police say Zelich is a suspect in at least one of the women's deaths.
---------------------------------------------
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer has been charged with hiding a corpse after the bodies of two women were found stuffed in suitcases deposited along a rural road in Wisconsin.

Fifty-two-year-old Steven Zelich was charged Thursday in Walworth County, which is southwest of Milwaukee.

He was arrested Wednesday, when detectives wearing hazmat suits removed large, brown bags of evidence and a refrigerator from his apartment in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.

Police in Minnesota say Zelich is a suspect in the death of a 37-year-old Farmington, Minnesota, woman whose remains were in the suitcase.

He has not been charged in her death, however.

Investigators have not yet identified the second woman whose remains were in the suitcases.
-------------------------------------------------
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- A former police officer suspected in the death of at least one of two women whose bodies were stuffed into suitcases and discarded on a rural Wisconsin highway may have met the woman through a bondage website, police said Thursday.

The 52-year-old security officer was arrested Wednesday on tentative charges of hiding a corpse. The same day, detectives wearing hazmat suits removed large, brown bags of evidence and a refrigerator from the man's apartment in West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb.

Highway workers discovered two suitcases containing female remains June 5 in the Town of Geneva, some 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee. Police identified one woman as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota. Authorities have not released the identity of the second woman but describe her as a white female with long dark hair, a pronounced overbite and a small heart tattoo on her lower left abdomen.

Farmington police detective Sgt. Lee Hollatz told The Associated Press that the arrested man has long been his "No. 1 person, by far, of interest" in Simonson's disappearance.

The man is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon in Wisconsin, but police said they expect him to be charged with homicide in Minnesota because they believe Simsonson died in a hotel there.

Simonson and the security officer checked into the Microtel Inn and Suites in Rochester, Minnesota, on Nov. 2, and the man checked out alone the next day, Rochester police Capt. John Sherwin said. The security officer told investigators during questioning that Simonson died in Rochester, and he was there when she died.

Investigators have collected evidence from the hotel and interviewed people who stayed there on those days. A woman who answered the phone at the hotel said employees had been told not to talk to the media. Rochester is more than 300 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

Investigators determined Simonson met the security officer over the Internet, possibly through a bondage site, Sherwin said.

The second woman was not from Minnesota, and investigators believe she was killed in Wisconsin, Sherwin said. He declined to say more, noting it would be up to Wisconsin authorities to release her identity.

At least a half-dozen law enforcement agencies have been involved in the investigation because events happened in different places.

Hollatz said he discovered Simonson went to the hotel with the security officer soon after her family reported her missing on Nov. 22, but all he had was a missing person's case until the bodies were discovered. He 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.

Simonson's father, Richard Wierson, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter had struggled with mental illness since adolescence and her seven children were placed in foster care with him in 2010. Wierson also said she placed escort ads on CraigsList.

The suspect worked for the West Allis police department from February 1989 until his resignation in August 2001.

He has been a licensed private security officer with Security Services USA since 2007, according to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Securitas spokeswoman Lynne Glovka said the company and the state did background checks when he was hired and she was not aware of any problems while he worked there.


WEAU 13 NEWS 1907 S. Hastings Way Eau Claire, WI 54701 By Phone: Main Number (715) 835-1313 and (715) 832-3474. Tip Line (715) 839-WEAU - (715) 839-9328 Sports Line (715) 852-1537
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 264800611 - weau.com/a?a=264800611