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More details unfold on suitcase suspect

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Staff | June 26, 2014

ELKHORN--Steven M. Zelich, 52, of West Allis, arrested yesterday in connection with the bodies of two women found stuffed into suitcases in the town of Geneva, is in custody Thursday at the Walworth County Jail, according to a news release from the Walworth County Sheriff's Office. Zelich is charged with two counts of hiding a corpse, the release noted.

WTMJ-4, a Milwaukee TV news station, reported Zelich will be making a court appearance Friday at 1:15 p.m.

Police identified one victim, Laura Jean Simonson, a 37-year-old Minnesota woman who had been living on and off in Farmington, Minnesota since Nov. 1, 2013, according to the Pioneer Press, a Minneapolis newspaper.

Simonson was reported missing by her mother on Nov. 22.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the second victim has been identified, but her name has not yet been released, and that authorities believe she was killed in Wisconsin. 

On Wednesday, investigators from the town of Geneva and the city of West Allis police departments, as well as Walworth County sheriffs, swarmed Zelich's apartment, a building in the 8000 block of W. Lincoln Avenue in West Allis.

Criminal investigators, some wearing Hazmat suits, carried dozens of brown paper bags of material and even a refrigerator from Zelich's apartment , loaded items into a crime scene vehicle.

The scene was eerily reminiscent of the 1991 crime scene investigation of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's Milwaukee apartment.

According to WTMJ-4, one of Zelich's neighbors reported seeing him about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, leaving for work.  Police had earlier checked with the apartment residents, asking if any knew about Zelich.

A Chicago TV station story said residents reported police using a battering ram to break down Zelich's apartment door Wednesday morning.

Details about Zelich are still unfolding.

A story in Thursday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described Zelich as a licensed private security officer.

WISN 12, a Milwaukee TV news station, reported Zelich is a former West Allis police officer who resigned in 2001.

WTMJ-4 reported that neighbors had seen Zelich with a small woman with blond hair who looked like Simonson.

Fox6 News reported that Rochester, Minnesota, police investigating Simonson's disappearance  found she and Zelich checked into a Rochester hotel on November 2.

The following day, Zelich checked out of the hotel without Simonson.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story ties a cell phone number for Zelich to an online discussion board titled, “MasterB Slave Club.”

An anonymously-posted ad also appeared on SecondCityClassifieds.com  after Simonson disappeared, saying she was being enslaved and tortured by Zelich, the Journal Sentinel story reported.



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