Ex-cop pleads guilty to hiding corpses in suitcases

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Jonah Beleckis | August 4, 2017

ELKHORN—More than three years after he dumped suitcases carrying the bodies of two women he killed during sex play, Steven Zelich pleaded guilty Friday in Walworth County Court to the final two charges he faced.

Zelich, 55, a former West Allis police officer, already must serve a combined 60 years in prison for the two killings.

The last shoes to drop in the case were two charges of hiding a corpse, which Zelich faced for dumping the suitcases in the town of Geneva in June 2014.

No plea agreement was reached. Zelich, who appeared in person, changed his plea to guilty. His trial was set to start later this month.

Police believe Jenny Gamez, 19, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, died in August 2012, according to court documents. Zelich and Gamez met online in 2012 and then in person in Kenosha, where she died.

Zelich's DNA was found on the ropes used to tie her hands.

Zelich was sentenced in March 2016 in Kenosha County Court to 35 years in prison for Gamez's death. He was convicted of first-degree reckless homicide with use of a dangerous weapon and hiding a corpse.

Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota, checked into a Rochester, Minnesota, hotel Nov. 2, 2013, according to a criminal complaint filed in Olmsted County Court. She was with a man later identified as Zelich.

Online conversations between Zelich and Simonson show the two met for sexual bondage role-playing.

In Simonson's death, Zelich pleaded guilty Feb. 3 to second-degree murder, with intent and not premeditated, per a plea agreement.

Court records show Zelich was sentenced to 25 years in prison and must pay $6,596.95 in restitution.

Zelich admitted to police that he caused Simonson's and Gamez's deaths, but he said both were accidental during the role-playing sessions, according to court documents.
Zelich will be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 13.

Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld said Friday that people will speak on the victims' behalf during the hearing.

Both sides are free to argue sentence length. The two counts combined carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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