New details released in case of Oregon woman found dead in suitcase in Wisconsin

 

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The body of Jenny Gamez, a 19-year-old from Cottage Grove, Ore., was found stuffed in a suitcase along a road in Wisconsin on June 5. Another woman was found stuffed in another suitcase. A former police officer has been arrested in the case. (Photo: CNN)

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Former police officer Steven Zelich, arrested in the deaths of two women found stuffed in suitcases, told detectives he met one of them, Jenny Gamez of Cottage Grove, Ore., on a bondage and sadomasochism website in 2012 and later made arrangements to meet in a Kenosha hotel, a detective testified in a court hearing Thursday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Walworth County Sheriff’s detective Jeffrey Recknagel said Zelich told them that he and Gamez spent multiple days in the Kenosha hotel in late 2012 or early 2013 and that during a bondage and sadomasochism session he eventually “caused her death,” put her in a suitcase and took her back to his West Allis, Wis., apartment, the newspaper reported.

Zelich, 52, was a former West Allis police officer; Gamez would have been about 19 years old at the time.

Zelich allegedly confessed to detectives that he caused the death of another woman, Laura Simonson, 37, of Farmington, Minn., during a similar session and also put her in a suitcase.

Recknagel testified that Zelich admitted to him that he placed the two suitcases stuffed with the women’s bodies along a road in Geneva, Wis., a few days before they were found on June 5.

Officials had a difficult time in identifying Gamez because she had not been reported as missing, police said. She had told her family in Cottage Grove, Ore., that she was moving away and they thought she was simply getting on with her life.

Zelich contends the deaths were an accident and he has not been charged with homicide. He was bound over for trial Thursday on two charges of hiding a corpse. He is to enter a plea July 17.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the attorney for Zelich said Thursday that the deaths of two women whose bodies were found along a Walworth County road were accidental and that in leaving the bodies there, Zelich was likely hoping they would be found.

The newspaper said that after the court hearing, the defense attorney alluded to building a case of the deaths resulting from a reckless accident. “If it’s a reckless act involving two people, which one is being reckless?” the lawyer asked.

 

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