Poker player Susie Zhao was burned alive after Michigan sex offender raped her, victim's genitals were 'punched'
From one of the two men who discovered Zhao's remains in the woods, Ronald Granville, said, 'It was hard to tell if it was Halloween prank or mannequin that was burned'
OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN: A man who has been accused of sexually assaulting and murdering professional poker player Susie Zhao, who went by the gaming name 'Susie Q' will be going on trial. It was revealed at a preliminary hearing that Zhao, 33, had been burned alive after she was sexually assaulted. Her burned body had been found by passersby in the Pontiac Lake State Recreation Area located in Oakland County on July 13. 60-year-old registered sex offender Jeffrey Morris was charged with first-degree murder in connection to Zhao's murder.
According to a report by Fox 2 Detroit, graphic testimony that was presented during a preliminary hearing which took place on Monday, September 14, had shed light on Zhao's final moments and gruesome crime. As per a Deputy medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Hanosh, who spoke via teleconference, Zhao's tongue had been burned.
Her hair had been signed off and there was smoke and soot in her lungs. This led to the sickening conclusion that she had been alive when she was set on fire. Hanosh said that Zhao had suffered at least 90% burns to her body. An autopsy had also revealed that there had been extreme damage to the victim's genitals from having been 'punched' with a fist or object.
Before her death, she had been restrained with zip ties and was sexually assaulted. From one of the two men who discovered Zhao's remains in the woods, Ronald Granville, said, "It was hard to tell if it was Halloween prank or mannequin that was burned."
As reported by CBS Detroit, White Lake Police Department detective Thomas Sorasin had also testified saying that phone records showed 8 calls between Morris and Zhao only hours before their meeting on July 12. Morris and Zhao had been staying at the Sherwood Motel located in Waterford.
Morris is currently being held without bond in jail as he awaits his trial. Zhao had last been seen alive by her mother on July 12 at around 5.30 pm. The next morning, Zhao's body was found by two men in a wooded park area. Newly obtained court documents show that Morris and Zhao had met up on the night of July 12.
Morris had spoken to cops after he was arrested and had picked Zhao up while on Watkins Lake Road. The two had checked into the Sherwood Motel at around 9.26 pm. The suspected killer said that the pair had then left the motel at around midnight and had taken all her belongings with her.
Cell phone records, however, show Zhao's cell phone at the motel at around 5 am the next morning at the same time Morris was seen leaving the hotel. The suspect then drove to the isolated 3,745-acre park. On July 31, Morris was arrested after being pulled over in his vehicle in Ypsilanti on a warrant.
We had earlier reported that Morris had been described by police as a transient, homeless person, has already been charged with first-degree, premeditated murder in the slaying of Zhao but a motive for the killing is still unclear. Detective Lt. Chris Hild admitted they do not know why he killed Zhao and that they do not have any evidence that it had anything to do with her gambling or card-playing.