The case against a drifter charged with the gruesome murder of a former professional poker player has been referred back to the 52-2 District Court by the Oakland County Circuit Court for a possible preliminary investigation against an additional charge.
Jeffery Morris, 60, is a convicted sex offender charged last year with the murder of Susie "Susie Q" Zhao, 30, whose cremated remains were discovered on July 13, 2020 in a DNR parking lot in White Lake Township.
An autopsy revealed that Zhao was alive when she was set on fire and at least 90 percent of her body was burned. She was also sexually assaulted and had significant damage to her genital area.
The case was brought to trial last September. On February 10, Judge Martha Anderson of the Oakland County Circuit Court referred the case to the lower court after the Oakland County District Attorney filed a criminal murder charge, according to assistant prosecutor David Williams. Crime murder kills someone while committing a crime.
Passers-by found Susie Zhao's burned remains in this DNR parking lot near Maceday and Cross Streets in White Lake Township on July 13, 2020.
Police have described Morris as a temporary homeless man with an extensive criminal record. His previous violations of the law included a 1989 Pontiac rape conviction. He and Zhao were reportedly together at the Sherwood Motel in Waterford shortly before the murder. According to the police, Zhao was known to visit the motel.
Zhao was part of the professional poker community that participated in the World Series of Poker Main Events. According to Herndon Mob, a poker database, she had a live winnings of $ 224,671.
Zhao's Facebook page says she attended Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills and then studied psychology at Northwestern University. It is also said that she lived in Los Angeles and is originally from Beijing, China.
The Sherwood Motel on Dixie Highway in Waterford, where Susie Zhao is known to frequent, according to police.
Zhao moved to Oakland County last June or earlier, according to police, and occasionally lived with her parents in their Waterford Township home.
Morris is being held in Oakland County Jail. His next court date is still pending.
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