WALWORTH COUNTY, Wisc. — Investigators have officially linked a missing Oakridge woman to a double murder case in Wisconsin.
Her identity was revealed during a news conference in Walworth County, Wisconsin Monday.
Through the use of dental records, investigators announced they officially identified the second body found in a suitcase earlier this month as 21-year-old Jenny Gamez, who last lived in Cottage Grove.
They say it was a difficult task only made possible through the cooperation of multiple agencies including here in Oregon.
The first body identified was that of 37-year-old Laura Simonson of Minnesota. Her mother reported her missing last November. Gamez was a different story.
“Jenny was not officially reported missing–that’s what took a little while. She had told her family she was moving and they thought perhaps she had moved on with her life,” said Chief Steven Hurley, Town of Geneva Police Department.
Both victims were found June 5th, after a driver reported seeing a pair of suitcases alongside a road in the town of Geneva, Wisconsin.
Former police officer 52-year-old Steven Zelich of West Allis was arrested last week in connection with the deaths. Sources say he had online and in-person relationships with both women and that he told authorities he was involved in their deaths.
Officials said they couldn’t reveal too much as investigations are ongoing, but they did admit it wasn’t easy, especially when it came to identifying Gamez’s body.
“It’s taken a great deal of work from several law enforcement agencies within the state as well as Minnesota and Oregon,” Hurley said.
About 10 different agencies took part in this initial investigation.
Court documents indicate Zelich met with Gamez in 2012 in Kenosha, Wisconsin and killed her shortly after.
Besides Gamez’ identification as a victim, little other new information was revealed at Monday’s news conference, but officials did say this was a tough case both logistically and mentally.
“In my over 36 years of law enforcement, it was one of the more horrific crimes that I’ve been involved in. As you know it’s taken a lot of twists and turns over the past three weeks,” Hurley said.
Law enforcement officials also offered their condolences to the women’s families.
“It’s through this investigation. It’s our hope that we can bring some closure to their families,” Hurley said.
The cases are now being transferred to jurisdictions where the murders were believed to have happened. Further charges will be up to officials there, but Zelich is expected to appear in court in Wisconsin Friday. The only charges he faces as of now are hiding a corpse.