Homeless Sex Offender Charged with Murder of Poker Player Susie Zhao

Poker player Susie Zhao was killed by a sex offender and transient, Jeffrey Bernard Morris, according to White Lake Township, Mich. police, who charged Morris with first-degree premeditated murder Wednesday.

Jeffrey Bernard Morris, 60, met his victim, Susie Zhao, at a motel in Waterford, Michigan, on the night she was killed. (Image: Daily Mail)

Police said Zhao appears to have met Morris at a motel they both frequented in Waterford Township on July 12, the night she is believed to have died. Zhao’s badly burnt body was found the following day near a recreation ground in White Lake.

According to Police Lt. Christopher Hild, it’s still unclear whether Zhao had any connection or relationship with Morris.

Piecing the Puzzle Together

Zhao had recently returned to the Detroit area where she grew up after a decade in California pursuing a career at the poker tables of Los Angeles. She told friends she had returned to “confront challenges in her personal life” and to look after aging parents.

But according to investigators, Zhao had visited the motel several times in the months leading up to her death.

We’re trying to determine whether Susie knew this individual prior to the date of her death and how long that interaction took place,” Hild said at a news conference Wednesday.

Morris was apprehended by White Lake police and an FBI task force on July 31 while driving west along I-275, around 30 miles from where the body was found. He sustained unspecified injuries during his arrest and required hospitalization. Authorities said the suspect was charged Wednesday while still in his hospital bed.

Hild declined to comment on Morris’ condition, but said he is expected to be discharged shortly and will be taken to Oakland County Jail. The suspect has been denied bail because he is a registered sex offender with a 1989 conviction for rape.

Who was ‘Susie Q’?

“Susie Q,” as she was known to the poker world, was born in Beijing, but grew up in Waterford Township, graduating with a degree in psychology from Northwestern University.

She was a regular player at the Commerce and Hollywood Park card rooms in Los Angeles, and made occasional appearances on the original poker online stream Live at the Bike, from the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens.

Mainly a cash-game player, Zhao enjoyed some success in tournaments, amassing $224,671 in earnings since 2010.

At a press conference appealing for information, friends described her as a “free spirit in the truest sense” who “played by her own rules [and] followed her dreams.”

Philip Conneller

Global and Tribal Gaming, Casino Business, International Crime, UK Gaming---- In Philip Conneller’s seven years with, he has covered the gaming industry from Las Vegas to Macau and everything in between. Previously the original features editor for poker’s Bluff US and editor for Bluff Europe (which he helped launch), he has also written for iGaming Business, eGaming Review, and numerous other industry news sites. His news stories for have been linked by the Washington Post, the Daily Mail, People Magazine, and Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, among many others. Philip lives outside of London with his wife and children, and frequently travels to the EU. Email:

View Comments

  • It doesn't matter about the character of this beautiful woman, or what was going on in her life- what matters is: Did this accused man do what he did. If it can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that he not only murdered her, but indeed tortured her before she died, then he deserves the rest of his life in prison. In that, he deserves the death penalty.

  • I am appalled at two comments here, and have reported them, as it is clear these two have inside knowledge, and likely have the video which we can BET was taken.
    (1) Re the criminal history of that monster:"Morris was arrested on July 31, 2020 after police pulled him over with a warrant. He was on bail at the time of the arrest for a previous case of retail fraud. Records show Morris is a registered tier 3 sex offender with a history of sexual assaults and violence that stretches back to the nineteen-eighties, with numerous arrests on his record. He has been on the Michigan sex offenders record since 1989. According to police he is something of a transient having no registered abode. Six months prior to his arrest, Morris had replied to an ad to rent a basement space in the area. Jjust a few weeks in his landlord evicted him, referring to him as a “creeper”. It is unknown where the suspected killer had been staying since the eviction."
    (2) In this time of Covid lockdown, everyone who works for a living has a hard time paying bills, THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM A HOOKER for choosing a cheap motel or spending the weekend out of her mother's house. She was likely quietly doing those underground poker games... it is the belief of many that she was doing this to make some money. It being done everywhere, in motels, in these times.
    (3) MANY females (check the reviews) have stayed in that hotel for over a year, many visitors to the area have done so for extended times. Are they whores too? The motel charges over $250 per week. That's not $20 a night. Something stinks with your two.
    (4) Interesting these two called her a "whore" - even if that were true (proof?) what does that make them? Her johns? Persons/monsters of interest, right now, you two. Expect calls.

  • Im not saying in away she deserved to die the way she did NO ONE DOES.
    BUT Don't you think if he did it he would have fleed the area seeing he had family out of state. He is made out to be a monster but yet this pro pocker player made her money in 2010. Was not brought up why she spent so much time at a $20 an hour hotel where prostation and drug use is a big problem. Or why she lived there for a week and half or that she was a known crack head and was being investigated for drug and sex trafficking. But no she was the angle.
    The sex offence was in 1989 and if it was today it would only be a 25 year offence he would not even be in the list any more. He was not a transit he was living in a house behind dairy queen.
    But remember the press only tells what will sell.

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