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Wisconsin man charged with hiding corpses found in suitcases

By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin security guard charged with hiding the corpses of two women in suitcases told investigators he caused their deaths and stashed them in the luggage that he hid in his apartment and in the trunk of his vehicle, authorities said on Thursday.

Steven Zelich, 52, was charged with two felony counts on Thursday in the county where the suitcases were found in a grassy ditch on June 5, as an investigation continued into the deaths of the women.

Authorities have identified one of the women as Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minnesota, who was last seen in November, and have tentatively identified the second woman, police said.

Zelich told authorities he met the unidentified woman in Kenosha County in southeastern Wisconsin in late 2012 or early 2013, and caused her death during that meeting, according to a criminal complaint filed in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

He told investigators he put the woman's body in a suitcase and hid it in his apartment until this year, when he moved it to his vehicle, the complaint said.

Zelich told investigators he met Simonson online and caused her death during a visit with her in Rochester, Minnesota, in November, the complaint said. He said he put her body in a suitcase and hid her in his vehicle, the complaint said.

Rochester police believe Zelich and Simonson were together at hotel in the southeast Minnesota town where they believe she died in November, Rochester Police Lieutenant Casey Moilanen said.

Simonson, who was identified through dental records, was found naked in the suitcase with a rope wrapped around her neck and ball gag strapped into her mouth, the complaint said.

The other woman was partially concealed with black plastic bags and her hands were bound with rope behind her back, the complaint said.

Zelich was taken into custody and questioned on Wednesday by investigators, who searched his apartment in West Allis, a southern suburb of Milwaukee, police said.

Zelich was being held in Walworth County jail, authorities said. A bond hearing was scheduled for Friday, according to online court records.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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