UPDATE: Former police officer's attorney says women's deaths pos - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Former police officer's attorney says women's deaths possibly accidental

Posted: Updated:
Steven Zelich/Walworth County Jail Steven Zelich/Walworth County Jail

ELKHORN (WKOW) -- An attorney for former West Allis police officer Steven Zelich says the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in suitcases may have been accidental.     

Zelich appeared in Walworth County Court Friday on two felony charges of hiding a corpse. A criminal complaint states Zelich told investigators he met the women online,  caused their deaths, and put their bodies in suitcases, and dumped the luggage in the Town of Geneva earlier this month. The complaint states the body of Laura Simonson of Minnesota had a rope around her neck, and the other woman's body had her hands tied behind her back. Zelich's bail was set as $1 million dollars, as a prosecutor said homicide charges against Zelich were possible in Minnesota and Kenosha County, where Zelich told investigators he met the unidentified woman.

Zelich's attorney, assistant state public defender Travis Schwantes says while the deaths may have been the result of pre-meditated homicide, he says the deaths could have been the accidental result of consensual, sex acts.

Schwantes says Zelich has been cooperating with police. "He's answered their questions. He's given them a lot of information to go on," Schwantes says.

Schwantes tells 27 News he is unaware of whether Zelich has knowledge of any other missing persons. Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci also says he no information on whether Zelich is suspected of involvement in any other deaths.

The suitcases were found in the Town of Geneva. Town of Geneva Police Chief Steven Hurley has yet to return a call from 27 News on whether any other deaths are part of the investigation of Zelich's activities.

After his twelve years as a West Allis Police Officer, Zelich received his state private security license. Department of Safety and Professional Services spokesperson Hannah Zillmer tells 27 News says Zelich's 2007 license would only have been granted after both a state and federal criminal background check. Zillmer says three, subsequent license renewals involved state criminal background checks. Schwantes says Zelich was arrested at the Glendale-based firm where he worked as a private investigator.

Citing police sources, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Zelich resigned as a West Allis police officer in 2001, after an off-duty altercation with a prostitute.

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TOWN OF GENEVA (WKOW) -- The criminal complaint against a former police officer details the case against Steven Zelich, who is due in Walworth County Circuit Court Friday afternoon on two counts of Hiding a Corpse.

Zelich was arrested this week in connection with two women's bodies found in separate suitcases along the highway in the Town of Geneva in early June. Police identified one victim as 37-year-old Laura Simonson from Farmington, Minnesota. Investigators have a tentative identification on the other woman, but have not released information on her yet.


According to the criminal complaint released Friday morning, Simonson was identified by her dental records. Police found her with rope wrapped around her neck. Jane Doe was partially concealed in a black plastic garbage bag. Her hands were bound with rope behind her back. Police say it was obvious both subjects had been deceased for a long period of time.


Police say in an interview with Steven Zelich, he admitted to causing the deaths of both women. Zelich told police he met Jane Doe chatting online in 2012 and met in person in late 2012 or early 2013 in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. Police say Zelich admitted he caused her death, then put her in a suitcase and hid her in his West Allis home.


According to police, Zelich said he met Simonson online first, then in person in Rochester, Minnesota in November 2013. Zelich told police he caused her death, then put her in a suitcase where he hid her body in his vehicle.


Zelich told officers in June 2014, he transported the bodies to the Town of Geneva and hid them off the roadway, where they were found by police.


Zelich is a former West Allis patrol officer who resigned 13 years ago. 


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