$1M bond set for man accused of hiding bodies
Missing Minnesota woman ID'd as woman found inside suitcase
ELKHORN, Wis. — A $1 million bond was set Friday for a former police officer charged with stuffing the remains of two women in suitcases he left along a Wisconsin road.
Steven Zelich, 52, of West Allis, appeared by video in Walworth County Court in Elkhorn Friday afternoon. He’s being held on two counts of hiding a corpse.
Prosecutors argued for the $1 million dollar bond saying homicide charges against Zelich are being considered in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
A criminal complaint states Zelich met his victims online, bound and killed them and carried their bodies around his vehicle for months.
Prosecutors said he killed one woman in Kenosha County in late 2012 or early 2013 and the other in Minnesota last November. It said 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.
One of the bodies found in the suitcases has been identified as Laura Simonson, 37, from Farmington, Minnesota. She has been reported as missing since Nov. 22, 2013.
Police in Minnesota say Simonson was likely killed in a Rochester hotel room.
Rochester police said Thursday Simonson and the man arrested in the case checked into the Microtel Inn and Suites on Nov. 2 and that the man checked out the next day without Simonson. Three weeks later, Simonson’s family filed a missing persons report.
Rochester Capt. John Sherwin said Zelich has confessed to being involved in Simonson’s death.
The private security officer was arrested Wednesday when detectives wearing hazmat suits removed bags of evidence and a refrigerator from his suburban Milwaukee apartment.
West Allis police said Zelich was a former West Allis patrol officer who resigned 13 years ago.
Police Chief Charles Padgett said in a statement released Thursday that Zelich was appointed to his position in 1989, worked for 12 years and then resigned in 2001.
The statement does not elaborate on why Zelich resigned.
Securitas Security Services USA said Zelich worked for the company since July 2007. They said 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.
Police said a highway worker came across the suitcases as he mowed the grass along the side of North Como Road near the intersection with County Road H in the town of Geneva, about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.
The second victim has not been identified, and police are asking for the public’s help. The second victim is described as a possible white female, between the ages of 15 and 35, 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 120 to 140 pounds with long, straight dark brown or black hair. She has a pronounced overbite and crooked lower teeth, two piercings in each ear and a quarter-sized heart tattoo on her lower left abdomen or pelvic area.
The investigation is ongoing, and police ask anyone with information on the identity of the second victim to call the town of Geneva Police Department at 262-248-9926.