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Steven Zelich now facing first degree intentional homicide charge

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KENOSHA (WITI/AP) — A former West Allis police officer has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in the death of one of two women whose bodies were found stuffed in suitcases and left along a Lake Geneva highway.

52-year-old Steven Zelich was charged Tuesday, August 5th in Kenosha County court in the death of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, a college student from Oregon.

He is also accused in the death of 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Farmington, Minnesota.

Zelich told investigators he met Gamez online and convinced her to fly to Milwaukee. He says the two then went to the Comfort Suites Inn in Kenosha for two to three days.

It was during that time, Zelich told police, he accidentally killed Gamez in a sexual bondage encounter -- similar to the way he admitted killing Simonson a few months after.

"Over the span of 15 months, under the circumstances the defendant acknowledged by gagging them with a ball gag in their mouth, ropes around the neck, hands tied behind their back blindfold over their face. He may call that accidental. I call that murder," said Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf.

"Certainly an issue is the consensual nature of any activity and that is something we will definitely have to explore," said Zelich's attorney, Jonathan Smith.

Zelich had already faced two charges of hiding a corpse in Walworth County, where highway workers cutting grass discovered the suitcases containing the bodies of Gamez and Simonson.

A criminal complaint says federal and state agents were investigating Simonson's disappearance this past March, and questioned Zelich at his West Allis apartment. He initially denied the two had a sexual relationship but later admitted the bodies of both women were in the trunk of his car during the questioning.

A Walworth County detective testified previously that Zelich told investigators he accidentally killed both women, hid their bodies in suitcases kept in his home and car, and dropped them in Walworth County when they began to smell.

Zelich's bond is set at $2 million.

Investigators in Rochester, Minnesota say they are putting together an investigative package on Simonson's murder. They expect it to go before the D.A. in a few weeks.

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