New details in Susie Zhao murder case
(Warning: This article contains details that some may find deeply upsetting) Graphic details of the final moments of poker pro Susie Zhao’s life were revealed in court this week as alleged killer Jeffrey Bernard Morris was bound over for trial on murder charges.
As we reported previously, Susie Zhao’s body was discovered on July 13th near a state land parking area in White Lake Township, Michigan.
One of the men who discovered her body, Ronald Granville, pictured below, told this week’s preliminary court hearing: “It was hard to tell if it was a Halloween prank or mannequin that was burned.”
Sexually assaulted and burned alive
The deputy medical examiner then revealed horrific details that indicated Zhao had been alive when she was set alight, having suffered a serious sexual assault.
Dr. Andrew Hanosh told the court that Zhao’s body was “extensively burned”, including having her hair burned off and her tongue badly burned.
“I would estimate at least 90% of the body’s surface area,” Dr.Hanosh said, explaining also that soot was found in her airway determined that Susie had been alive during the burning.
Dr. Hanosh ruled her death as “homicide” due to “thermal body burns with smoke and soot inhalation”
Previously, details had emerged indicating Susie had been tied and tortured prior to her murder. This week the court heard that she had suffered extensive wounds to her genital area, believed to have been carried out just before or just after her death.
The court heard from multiple witnesses brought by Michigan state prosecutor Kenneth Frazee. They included members of the public as well as police and the FBI.
FBI track Morris’ movement using cell phone technology
FBI Special Agent George Rienerth, described as an “expert in historical cell site analysis,” and pictured below in an earlier case, testified about Morris and Zhao’s mobile phones.
He explained how Zhao’s two cell phones, as well as Morris’ single phone, were in the same location for long stretches of July 12th, at one point Morris calling Zhao.
However, it was only Morris’s phone that was tracked from the Sherwood Motel to the spot where Zhao’s body was discovered, with Zhao’s phone at the hotel from 10 pm until 5 am.
The court also heard testimony from a park ranger, Derek Yarnall, that there was no sign of any vehicle or body when he performed a midnight check of the parking lot where Zhao’s body was found.
Suspect steals zip ties according to store security leader
The court also heard from Keith Hawkes, the person in charge of security at the Meijer store in Waterford.
Hawkes reviewed CCTV footage recorded shortly before midnight of July 12th. He witnessed Jeffry Morris stealing ‘two packages of 14” black zip ties’, along with a ‘jar of petroleum jelly’.
Similar zip ties found in the suspect’s car according to detective
Detective Thomas Sarasin gave evidence that similar zip ties to those stolen were found on Susie Zhao’s wrists, near her dead body, and also in the engine of Morris’ Audi car.
Sarasin also explained that a search of Morris’ mobile phone revealed videos of death and violence against women. His internet browsing history also showed up daily searches for brutal pornographic acts.
Morris will stand trial and no bail is given
With the defence calling no witnesses during the five-hour hearing,JudgeKelley Kostin made her judgment that, “The court is satisfied that the prosecution has met its burden as to probable cause.”
The court bound the case over for trial and did not set a bond, which means Jeffrey Bernard Morris will face trial on first-degree murder charges and will not be released on bail.
Susie Zhao – family member, friend, and poker player
Susie was well-known and much-liked by the poker community, news of her death sparking many memories of her fun attitude at the tables…
She was one of the bubbliest and most vivacious opponents I've ever had. She was a very strong player who also liked to have fun at the table. Do you remember her from our Day Five in 2015, @jeffplatt