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Oakridge Mom Linked to Murder Suspect

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Eugene, Ore. — A missing Oakridge mother could be a victim in a Wisconsin double murder case, involving a former police officer.

Corporal Conrad Gagner, with the Cottage Grove Police Department, told KEZI 9 News that the department is working with police in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to obtain dental records of Jenny Gamez from a Cottage Grove dental clinic.

Gamez graduated from Oakridge High School. Her foster mother said Gamez then moved to Cottage Grove to live with her foster father, and disappeared in 2012.

Former police officer, 52-year-old Steven Zelich, appeared in a Walworth County, Wisconsin courtroom Friday, where a judge charged him with hiding a corpse, and ordered him held on a $1 million bond.

Zelich is suspected of killing two women and hiding their bodies in suitcases. His lawyer said the deaths may have been accidental during consensual sex.

Investigators said the victims were found stuffed in suitcases in Zelich’s home in Geneva, Wisconsin. One of the victims, identified as 37-year-old Laura Simonson, was found naked with a rope around her neck and a sexual ball gag in her mouth.  The other victim, who investigators suspect to be Gamez, was also found naked with her hands tied behind her.

Zelich told investigators he met the first victim in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, where he killed her, stuffed her body into a suitcase, then back to his apartment. Detectives said Zelich told them months after the first incident, he met Simonson in a Minnesota hotel, and traveled back to Wisconsin with her body in a suitcase.

Back in Oregon, Cottage Grove Police said officers searched Gamez’ foster father’s home, but didn’t obtain any evidence.

Gamez’ foster mother said she was told by investigators Zelich met his victims on an online dating website, and that sexually-deviant content was found on Gamez’ computer.

4 comments

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  1. Heath says:

    Thoughts and prayers for both of these victims and their families. They found those poor girls about 50 miles from my home…absolutely horrifying what some people are capable of.

  2. Dixie says:

    Thank you for humanizing her. The police officer treated his vicitms worse than people treat their animals. Thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families, and law enforcement investigating this. Anyone touched by this will be affected.

  3. Andrea Morrow says:

    They didn’t find the bodies inside Zelich’s home. A highway department found them in suitcases along the side of the road in the town of Geneva, Wisconsin.

  4. Bud Keyes says:

    Hands tied behind back? Rope around neck? Ball gag in? That is consensual sex????

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