UPDATE, AUGUST 7: A transient sex offender has been charged in connection with the death of poker player Susie Zhao.
Jeffrey Bernard Morris was charged by White Lake Township, Mich. police with first-degree premeditated murder.
Police are still trying to piece together the circumstances. Police said Zhao met Morris at a hotel in Waterford Township, Michigan on July 12, the night she died. It is still unclear if Morris and Zhao knew each other or had another connection.
The suspect has been denied bail because he is a registered sex offender with a 1989 conviction for rape.
UPDATE: A 60-year-old Michigan man has been arrested in connection with the death of professional poker player Susie Zhao, who appeared on the World Poker Tour on Fox Sports Net.
The White Lake Township Police Department took the Pontiac man into custody around on Friday after obtaining search warrants. Detectives and an FBI Task Force were searching for the suspect’s vehicle and then stopped it in the area of I-275 and Michigan Avenue.
The arrestee’s name has not been revealed.
EARLIER: The “badly burned” body of professional poker player Susie Zhao, who played under the moniker of “Susie Q,” was found in a park on the outskirts of Detroit, according to police there. She was 33.
Zhao was one of the few female players to compete on the World Poker Tour, which is broadcast on Fox Sports Net. She played in a Tour event as recently as last August.
Her body was discovered on July 13. Local police went public with Zhao’s identity this week in hope of unraveling the mystery surrounding her death.
“We started looking into her past history over the course of the last few days before her death. At that point, we determined that we wanted the assistance of the FBI to assist us with some of their technology,” a White Lake Township detective said at a news conference Friday. He then asked for the public’s help with the case. “Even if you think it’s something minute, we’ll take any calls,” he said.
“We’re looking into every lead, every possibility,” continued the detective. “Obviously when you’re dealing with that type of profession you have potential of owing debt, and those are things that we’re looking into.”
Police said they are investigating a “coverup or some sort of retaliatory incident,” but nothing is certain.
At the press conference, childhood friends remembered the poker player as a “no-drama … positive…brilliant” woman who “lived a fascinating life.”
Fellow professional poker player Bart Hanson called Zhao “a true gentile soul.”
According to Casino.org, Zhao had been living for in Los Angeles for about 10 years, where she was “a fixture in the high-stakes cash-game scene.” She sometimes appeared on “Live at the Bike,” an online poker stream from the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens.
Zhao’s lifestyle was a bit transient. While she lived in California, she also had spent time in Florida and Michigan recently, according to detectives.
Friend Yuval Bronshtein told local station WXYZ-TV that Zhao recently had moved back home to overcome some personal problems and because she could no longer afford to live in California. “It’s hard to picture her having enemies,” Bronshtein told the station.
See the interview below.
According to PokerNews.com, Zhao’s competitive success included “several deep runs” in the World Series of Poker Main Event, where in 2012 she earned $73,805. Her lifetime earnings totaled $224,671 according to GlobalPokerIndex.com.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.