Poker Pro Susie Zhao Victim of Sexual Assault, New Murder Findings Reveal

  • Court documents show Zhao was sexually assaulted and tortured before she was set on fire
  • Convicted sex offender Morris is under arrest for first-degree premeditated murder
  • Victim’s cellphone remained at the motel meeting spot until 5am, the time when Morris drove off
  • Evidence mounts against the suspect after incriminating items were found in his car
  • Police concluded there is no connection between Zhao's death and her professional poker ties
court judge holds documents in front of gavel
Court documents have revealed new details of the sexual assault and torture of 33-year-old poker player Susie Zhao before her eventual murder. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Horrific new details emerge

New court documents show professional poker player Susie Zhao was tortured and sexually assaulted prior to her death at the hands of convicted sex offender Jeffery Morris.

bound with zip-ties and sexually assaulted with a large object

An ongoing FBI and White Lake Township investigation into the homicide of 33-year-old Zhao has produced the new details surrounding her death. According to court documents obtained by 7 Action News, on the night of the crime, Zhao was bound with zip-ties and sexually assaulted with a large object. She was then lit on fire, suffering burns from which she would eventually die.

On July 13, police found Zhao’s badly burned body in the early hours of the morning at Pontiac Lake Park in Oakland County. An investigation later led to the arrest of Morris, 60, after phone records showed that Zhao had met the homeless Michigan man at a motel the night before. He has since been charged with first-degree premeditated murder.

The evidence against Morris

After Morris was taken into custody on July 31, he told investigators he had picked Zhao up in his car before checking in at the Sherwood Motel in Waterford Township on the night in question. He insisted that the poker star left at midnight, taking all of her belongings including her cellphone.

Zhao’s mobile device did not leave the motel until 5am

The accuracy of Morris’ version of events was questioned after phone records indicated Zhao’s mobile device did not leave the motel until 5am. Surveillance footage and phone records also showed Morris leaving at that time. He then drove to the park where Zhao’s body would ultimately be found.

Upon further investigation into Morris’ vehicle, police found duffle bags containing incriminating evidence. Investigators found a bed sheet with apparent blood stains and a baseball bat with a blood-like stain. Several footwear impressions, hairs, and other possible bloodstains were also found inside the vehicle. All are being tested at Oakland Country Crime Lab.

Before being charged with the murder of Zhao, Morris was already a convicted sex offender with one past offense in 1989. The 60-year-old is listed on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry for a criminal act of sexual conduct through force or coercion.

No connection to poker

When the case began, detectives speculated that the murder of Zhao, known as “Susie Q” on the poker circuit, may have been linked to her ties to the world of professional poker. She earned nearly $250,000 in poker winnings since 2009, bagging a total of $187,441 at World Series of Poker events.

Police have since concluded that there is no evidence indicating such a connection. As a result, detectives are still seeking a motive for the homicide. Morris has refused to speak with investigators following the murder charge. He has declined to comment on any evidence gathered against him.