On July 13th this year, the remains of Susie ‘Susie Q’ Zhao were found in a Detroit parking lot. This murder put the poker world into a state of profound and immediate shock.
Zhao was a minor celebrity in the poker world. She had $222,671 in tournament winnings and several WSOP appearances. She was also a regular player in and commentator on the games aired on Live at the Bike.
This celebrity, coupled with the sensational nature of the crime – a beautiful woman in her early thirties and the desecration of the corpse – made it a major piece of poker news.
The early intimations of the police that it might in some way be connected to her life as an itinerant card shark put us all on high alert. If it could happen to her, it could happen to any of us.
Arrested, named, and shamed
In an oddly poetic turn of events, the police nabbed a suspect for Zhao’s murder the day before her funeral was to be held. The unnamed suspect was taken in early on Friday, July 3`.
Zhao’s funeral was held the next day right around the time the Oakland PD broke the news of the arrest.
The unnamed suspect is unnamed no more. We now know the name of the ‘60-year-old Pontiac man’ from the Friday arrest.
Although police have not released details, nor have they filed charges yet, poker writer Haley Hintze did the necessary muckraking. She dug up confirmation that only two 60-year-olds were being held by the Oakland Police that day. And one of those was in for a ‘misdemeanor alcohol violation’.
The other was Jeffery Bernard Morris.
This appears to be accurate. There were two 60-year-olds arrested yesterday in Michigan's Oakland County, but the other one was for an alcohol violation. Morris is jailed but has yet to be charged. I have my suspicions about what occurred but will wait pending more info. https://t.co/sdyuyrOm6f
— Haley "Aunt Eefah" Hintze (@Haley_Hintze) August 2, 2020
Makings of a murderer?
Hintze’s sleuthing followed up on a forum poster going by the username ‘Forum Wars’, who suggested Morris was the suspect on the forums for PokerFraudAlert.
Forum Wars was bruiting Morris’s name about, on the basis of the arrest records and dates of birth in the publicly-accessible Oakland County Inmate Records Database.
Morris has five previous arrests and a listing on the sex offender’s register. One of his arrests is for a ‘Tier 3″ sex offense, for which he was charged in 1989.
‘Tier 3’” here indicates third-degree sex offenses that include “Force or Coercion” and in some cases indicates the involvement of minors under the age of thirteen.
Hope of closure
In general terms, the longer an investigation drags on, the lower the chance of resolution. For that reason, the prompt arrest, made within a few weeks of the crime’s discovery, bodes well for a possible conviction.
Both fans and family alike are hoping for closure. We will all have to wait for Morris’s trial to know the truth. We’ll also need to wait a few days to see if charges are filed against him.
Even so, this looks like it could be the first tentative step towards justice for Susie Q.