Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of pro poker player Susie Zhao last month, but the hows and whys of the gorgeous 33-year-old’s death remain a mystery.
White Lake Township Police said Wednesday they believe that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Morris, 60, killed Zhao late July 12 or early on July 13 and left her charred body in a parking lot near the Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area.
Morris had checked into the Sherwood Motel in Waterford Township on July 12, the day before Zhao’s remains were discovered. Morris checked into the same room Zhao had vacated the day before, according to WDIV.
Zhao checked into the motel — just two miles from her mother’s home, where she had reportedly been living since returning to Michigan — on July 9, the motel owner said. The owner also said they never saw Zhao and Morris together, but police said cell phone records put them both at the motel on the evening of July 12..
Investigators said that Zhao stayed at the same motel several times before her death.
WDIV also reported that investigators found Morris’s phone number on Zhao’s phone and tracked him to nearby Belleville, where he was taken into custody.
Morris, described as a transient whose last address was in Pontiac, is a Tier 3 sex offender with a 1989 conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct — force or coercion, as CrimeOnline previously reported. A couple who lives in Pontiac said they took Morris in at one point but he was so violent they had to kick him out their home, according to WDIV.’
Friends said Zhao, who played poker under the name Susie Q, bounced between cities, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and had recently moved back to Michigan to be closer to family and deal with some issues in her personal life.
A motive remains unclear. Morris was charged with Zhao’s murder from a hospital bed. White Lake Township police Lieutenant Christopher Hild didn’t reveal why Morris was being hospitalized, but said the suspect’s medical issue is not life-threatening.
Morris will remain jailed without bond after he’s discharged from the hospital. His next court hearing is scheduled for August 18.
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[Featured image: Jeffery Morris/Oakland County Sheriff’s Office; Susie Zhao/Facebook]