Professional Poker Player Was Tortured, Sexually Assaulted Before Burned to Death in Michigan, Police Reveal

Authorities released new details of Susie Zhao’s gruesome death as part of the investigation led by the FBI and White Lake Township police.

What happened: The 33-year-old professional poker player was allegedly tied up with zip-ties and sexually assaulted by a large object before being “lit on fire until she died,” in Michigan, according to the court documents, reported WXYZ.

  • Her body had been found by authorities in a lake at Oakland County on July 13 at 8:05 a.m.
  • Zhao had met up with the accused suspect, Jeffery Morris, 60, a homeless convicted sex offender who was convicted back in 1989 for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, on July 12, reported the New York Post.
  • He has been in Michigan’s public registry under offender searches since then, with a lifetime registration.
  • Morris was arrested near I-275 and Michigan Avenue on July 31.
  • Following the arrest, Morris told police he picked up the poker player on Watkins Lake Road and checked in at Sherwood Motel around 9:26 p.m. the evening of July 12.

Foul play: Morris told authorities he left the motel to buy alcohol. He also said that Zhao left the place at around midnight “and took all of her belongings including her cell phone with her.”

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  • However, cell phone records and surveillance footage show that Zhao’s device did not leave the motel until 5 in the morning of July 13.
  • Morris left the place and drove to the secluded part of the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area where the woman’s body was found. Evidence shows that Morris was at the park for around seven minutes.

An ongoing investigation: During Morris’ arrest, investigators found a fitted bed sheet with apparent blood stains and a baseball bat that was possibly stained with blood.

  • The Oakland County Crime Lab is testing the evidence gathered from the man’s duffle bags.
  • Police said they found no evidence connecting the death of Zhao to poker or gambling. They are still investigating the motive behind the killing, the authorities added.
  • According to friends, Zhao, better known as “Susie Q,” had moved from Los Angeles to Michigan in June due to “challenges” in her life outside of her high profile poker status, reported the New York Post.

Feature Image via Oakland County Sheriff

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