Oregon woman is second body in Wisconsin suitcases

Jenny Gamez, of Cottage Grove, Ore., was identified June 30, 2014, as one of two women whose bodies were found in suitcases along a country road in southern Wisconsin.

Wisconsin authorities Monday identified a second body found in two suitcases dumped along a county road as a 21-year-old Oregon woman.

Jenny Gamez of Cottage Grove, Ore., South of Eugene, was identified through dental records. She and a 37-year-old Minnesota mother of seven were found in separate suitcases June 5 in the Town of Geneva, about 35 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Authorities have not announced how the women died.

Steven Zelich, a 52-year-old former suburban Milwaukee police officer linked to a sadomasochistic online forum, was charged last week with two counts of hiding a corpse and is being held on $1 million bail.

According to the criminal complaint filed last week, Zelich has admitted to killing both women.

Homicide charges could be filed in Kenosha, Wis., And Rochester, Minn., Where investigators believe the the women were killed.

Zelich, of West Allis, told investigators he met Gamez online in late 2012 or early 2013 and later at a Kenosha County motel, where she was killed. Gamez, who was 19 at time, was found inside the suitcase with her hands tied behind her back and stuffed partially inside a garbage bag.

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Police said Zelich admitted causing her death, stuffing her in a suitcase and then hiding it at his home in West Allis. Sometime this year he put the suitcase in his car and moved it, according to the criminal complaint.

Gamez was not reported missing, because she had told her family she was moving and “they thought perhaps she was on with her life,” Town of Geneva Police Chief Steven Hurley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Gamez’s former foster mother said she last spoke with her on Mother’s Day 2012.

“We’re just stunned by all of this. Shocked,” Lorraine Eriksen told the Eugene Register-Guard.

Gamez gave birth to a son in 2008, and the boy’s father gained sole custody in 2010, court records show. Eriksen could not explain who or what brought Gamez to Wisconsin.

The second victim, 37-year-old Laura Simonson, of Farmington, Minn., Was reported missing in November, and her family had alerted police that they believed she was with Zelich. Her father told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his daughter had placed escort ads on Craigslist.

Zelich told investigators he had also connected with Simonson online. They met in a Rochester motel in early November, and he told investigators she was killed during their sadomascochistic encounter, the complaint states. She was found with a rope around her neck and a gag strapped into her mouth with a collar.

As with Gamez, he put Simonson’s body in a suitcase, drove it to his home and hid her body before dumping it along the road.

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Zelich had posted an ad seeking “no limit enslavement, imprisonment, captivity, animalization … Ideally in a farm/caged situation,” the Journal Sentinelreported.

Simonson’s father said that his daughter had struggled with mental illness since her teens, and that in 2010 her seven children were placed in his care.

In January, after the family contacted authorities and placed an online ad seeking to find her, West Allis police interviewed Zelich and searched his apartment but found no signs of Simonson, the Associated Press reported.

In 2001, Zelich was forced to resign from the West Allis Police Department after an off-duty altercation with a prostitute, according to a police report.

He has worked as a licensed private security officer for Securitas Security Services USA since 2007.

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