Police walked bags of evidence and even a refrigerator out of the West Allis, Wisc., apartment of a former police officer suspected in the murders of two women found stuffed in suitcases in the town Geneva earlier in June.
Steven M. Zelich, 52, has been linked to sadomasochistic websites and may have met the women while they worked as escorts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The former cop, who reportedly resigned from the West Allis police force after a hushed-up altercation with a prostitute in 2001 after a dozen years with the department, was arrested Wednesday and held in the Walworth County Jail on preliminary charges of hiding a corpse, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Zelich reportedly met one woman a year and a half ago, killed her, and kept her body in both his car and his home, cops said.
The two female corpses were found stuffed in suitcases June 5 along a road in Geneva, some 45 miles southwest of West Allis, a Milwaukee suburb.
One woman has been identified as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minn. Cops say they think the woman, reported missing in Minnesota on Nov. 22, was killed in a Microtel Inn and Suites room in Rochester, Minn., where she stayed with Zelich earlier that month, police told the Journal Sentinel.
She was found naked, a rope around her neck and a ball gag strapped in her mouth with a collar, the complaint documents. Cops think Zelich met Simonson on a bondage website.
Motel employees recognized a picture of the missing woman and told cops she stayed there with the suspected murderer Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, the day Zelich checked out alone, according to the newspaper.
“Basically, after Nov. 2 she was never seen from or heard from again,” Rochester Police Capt. John Sherwin told the paper.
Cops linked Zelich to the missing woman on Tuesday; the next day, he was arrested.
An ad on secondcityclassifieds.com posted by “Laura Simonson’s family and friends” and titled “Steven Zelich is a predator” claims the former cop “is a sadist who has enslaved” Simonson.
“He keeps her naked, handcuffed, shackled and caged. He has no intention of ever releasing this poor woman who suffers from various mental disabilities. She has been whipped and tortured by Steven Mark Zelich since November 2, 2013,” it reads.
An email address included on the ad and linked to Zelich is found on disturbing web forums, including one where he writes in January 2012 about seeking “no limit no release enslavement, imprisonment, captivity, animalization … ideally in a farm/caged situation.”
Simonson’s father said the woman used Craigslist to find work as an escort and has seven children, all of whom were placed in foster care with him in 2010, Richard Wierson told the Journal Sentinel.
Zelich has worked as a private security officer for years and has been licensed to do so since June 2007, according to the newspaper.
The second woman has not been identified, but cops released a sketch. The woman’s body was found in a garbage bag, her hands bound behind her back, the Sentinel reported.
During a search of Zelich’s apartment that spanned more than eight hours, police took paper bags filled with evidence and a refrigerator out of his apartment at 8011 W. Lincoln Ave., WTMJ reported.