Ex-officer kills woman, dumps body

A former suburban Milwaukee police officer has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing an Oregon woman and ditching her body in a suitcase along a highway.

Steven Zelich, 54, was sentenced Wednesday in the 2012 death of 19-year-old Jenny Gamez, whose body was found along a Wisconsin highway in 2014. He pleaded guilty in January to first-degree reckless homicide with use of a dangerous weapon and hiding a corpse.

The case's details are similar to accusations Zelich faces in the death of Laura Simonson of Minnesota, who died in 2013. Authorities say he met both women online, choked them at hotels during sexual encounters and stashed their bodies in suitcases before dumping them along the highway.

The suitcases were found by highway workers mowing grass in 2014 in Walworth County, where Zelich faces two counts of hiding a corpse. Charges are also pending in Minnesota, where Simonson died, the Journal Sentinel reported.