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Julie Moraine August 8, 2020 3 min read
Man Charged with First-Degree Murder in Susie Zhao’s Case
The murderer of poker player Susie Zhao, also known as Susie Q at the green felt has been charged with first-degree murder earlier this week. He will appear in court on August 18.
Michigan Man Arrested and Charged for Zhao’s Death
Poker pro Susie Zhao was found dead on the morning of July 13 with the police now fleshing out new details of her death. According to investigators, Zhao was murdered by a 60-year-old Michigan man, Jeffery Bernard Morris, of Pontiac, who was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday this week.
Zhao, a poker player who resided in Los Angeles and played poker in Southern California, often travelled to Las Vegas for the occasional tournament. She was known for her talent in cash games and Zhao had amassed an estimated $222,671 in live earnings between 2009 and 2020.
Much like other poker players, Zhao struggled when the coronavirus lockdown struck and shuttered most casinos. At the time, Zhao decided to move back to Michigan with her mother. On the night of her murder, on July 12, she left the house in the evening to be found dead the next morning near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a Detroit News article informed.
Her body was severely burned and it took investigators a week to identify her. One angle investigators explored was whether Zhao’s murder was the result of gambling debt but that was quickly ruled out.
On July 31, a day before the memorial service held on August 1 for Zhao by family and friends, the police arrested Morris who was their main suspect for the murder. White Lake Township police Lt. Christopher Hild assured that Morris’ arrest was “the beginning of the pursuit of justice for Zhao.”
Who’s Morris and Why Did He Kill Zhao?
Zhao and Morris met at a motel, one Zhao used to frequent, on the evening on July 12. The hotel owner told the police that he remembered Zhao as a kind young woman, but he never saw her interact with Morris nor did he hear anything suspicious.
The police used phone records to identify the locations of both the victim and her alleged murderer, and arrested Morris based on that. Morris is a registered sex offender, convicted of third-degree criminal sexual misconduct back in 1989 and he’s in the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.
He was hospitalized immediately after his arrest on Friday, July 31, and remains in custody without the right to post bail. Lt. Christopher Hild has not spoken about Morris’ mental and physical health condition but he will be transferred to the Oakland County Jail once he is cleared by the medical authorities.
The hearing is now set for August 18. Zhao’s body was found badly burned, so much that it took investigators a week to identify. According to Kiro7, Zhao was still alive when she was dragged to the site of her murder, tied up and set afire by Morris who has yet to give a reason for why he committed such a horrible crime.
Zhao’s last appearance at a poker event was back in 2017 WSOP when she won $18,693 for finishing 697th.