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Police say woman found in suitcase likely killed in hotel

Published On: Aug 06 2014 08:13:30 AM CDT   Updated On: Jun 26 2014 05:21:37 PM CDT
Laura Simonson and Steven Zelich

Laura Simonson and Steven Zelich

TOWN OF GENEVA, Wis. -

A 52-year-old has been arrested in connection to the two bodies found in suitcases in the town of Geneva two weeks ago, and one of the victims has been identified, according to a release.

The town of Geneva Police Department said one of the bodies found in suitcases on June 5 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.

On Wednesday, Steven M. Zelich, 52, of West Allis, was taken into custody in connection to the death investigation, police said. He's being held on two counts of hiding a corpse.

Rochester Capt. John Sherwin said the suspect 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. Another person alerted Geneva police officers who opened the cases at about 3 p.m. and discovered the bodies inside.

Police Chief Steven Hurley said at the time it appeared there was a body in each suitcase, but he wouldn't comment on the condition of the remains. He said it didn't appear that the victims were killed at the location where the suitcases were found.

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.

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