Suitcase death case heading to trial

WALWORTH COUNTY -- Steven Zelich, the former West Allis police officer charged with hiding two bodies, appeared in court for his preliminary hearing. 

A Walworth County detective took the stand and testified that Zelich told him he caused the deaths of both Laura Simonson and Jenny Gamez.  

Walworth County Sheriff's Department Detective Jeffrey Rucknagel testified Zelich confessed he and Gamez began chatting through a website dedicated to bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism in 2012.

Zelich confessed to meeting Gamez later in 2012 when she was either 18 or 19 years old. \"They went to a hotel in Kenosha County Wisconsin, and after they arrived they spent days at the hotel,\" said Rucknagel.

Rucknagel says Zelich participated in a BDSM session, and killed Gamez during that session.

Months later Zelich met began chatting online with Laura Simonson. The two met in a hotel in Rochester, MN. Rucknagel says Zelich spent days with Simonson before causing her death during a BDSM session.

Rucknagel also testified Zelich admitted to placing the bodies of Gamez and Simonson in a suitcase, and storing them. Those suitcases were eventually found on the side of a Walworth County highway in early June.

The question in this hearing if Zelich actually tried to hide the bodies. The judge felt there was overwhelming probable cause that was Zelich's intent.

\"You heard the judge in this case. It's simply a matter of hiding a corpse with the intent to conceal a crime,\" says Walworth County District Attorney Dan Necci. \"That's all we were concerned about today was getting bond over on those felonies.\"

Zelich's public defender says he plans to continue defending Zelich if  charges are filed in Kenosha County. He would not comment on this preliminary hearing.

Zelich is due back in court on July 17, 2014.

Share this article: