Former cop Zelich faces trial for hiding corpses; told police de - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Former cop Zelich faces trial for hiding corpses; told police deaths accidental

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ELKHORN (WKOW) -- A Walworth County judge Friday bound over former West Allis police officer Steven Zelich for trial on charges involving hiding two women's corpses in suitcases.

During testimony by Walworth County Sheriff's detective Jeffrey Recknagel during Zelich's preliminary hearing, Recknagel said Zelich maintained the women's deaths were the result of bondage type sex.  Recknagel testified the 52-year old Zelich said he met 21-year old Jenny Gamez of Cottage Grove, Oregon, and 37-year old Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota online, and then met them in-person at hotels in Kenosha County and Minnesota.

But Judge Phillip Koss doubted Zelich's explanation.

"The defendant says they (the deaths) were accidental. Perhaps once, but twice, it's not likely to be accidents when this happens two times," Koss said.

Authorities say the bodies of Gamez and Simonson were found in suitcases last month in the Town of Geneva.  Recknagel says Zelich told him he dumped the bodies from the trunk of his car because the smell had become too strong.  No homicide charges have been filed against Zelich.

Zelich's attorney, assistant state public defender Travis Schwantes, said the suitcases were close to a rural road, and near a police station.

"It's more likely that he placed them alongside the road to be discovered," Schwamtes said.

But Koss disagreed, noting Zelich could have left the bodies in the hotels to be found.

Zelich quietly listened during the court hearing, only occasionally conferring with Schwantes.

Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci said he believed before Zelich's case would progress to trial on felony charges of hiding corpses, a homicide charge would be filed in one of the jurisdictions where the women died, and would take priority.

Zelich resigned as a West Allis police officer in 2001. WISN-TV reports a woman says that year she escaped from a near-attack by Zelich, and reported the episode to West Allis, but nothing was done. The station reports West Allis' police chief said the woman failed to show up for meetings to discuss the situation.

 

 

 

 


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