A 60-year-old Michigan man was arrested on Friday in the death of professional poker player Susie Zhao, 33 (pictured)
A 60-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the death of professional poker player Susie Zhao, police say.
The 33-year-old’s body was found badly burned at Pontiac Lake State Recreation area on July 13.
Zhao was described as a ‘national talent’ on the competitive poker circuit, where she was known as ‘Susie Q.’
She would easily take home prizes of tens of thousands of dollars and is believed to have won $224,671 over the course of her career.
The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was pulled over on a warrant and taken into custody by officers from White Lake Township at 9am on Friday, reported the Detroit Free Press.
Zhao had lived in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas but friends told WXYZ she had recently moved back to live with her parents in Michigan to ‘confront challenges in her personal life’.
She was last seen by her mother on July 12 around 5.30pm with her charred remains being discovered the next day by a local resident around 8.30am.
Police believe she was killed before her body was burned and that her high stakes job may have been a motive.
‘You have to determine whether or not this is a coverup, or this may be some sort of retaliatory incident because of her profession,’ Detective Chris Hild of the White Lake Township Police, told the Free Press.
Zhao had won tens of thousands of dollars throughout her career as a professional poker player as she jetted between tournaments in Vegas and Los Angeles.
Zhao has been described as a ‘national talent’ in the competitive poker circuit and was known as ‘Susie Q’. Pictured: Zhao during a poker game
She had competitive success as a poker player and is reported to have won $224,671 in tournament cashes, including $73,000 at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event. Pictured: Zhao during a poker game
Her badly burned body was found at Pontiac Lake State Recreation area (pictured) in Michigan on July 13
She began to play in high school before moving on to high-stakes games after college.
According to PokerNews.com, one of her prizes included more than $73,000 at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event.
‘She was the freest spirit, in the truest sense,’ Zhao’s friend, Meredith Rogowski, said at a press conference, according to WCAX.
‘She played by her own rules. She followed her dreams, absolutely brilliant.’
Zhao has been described as an ‘excellent player’ by her fellow poker players who say they are ‘heartbroken’ to learn of her death.
They said she was a national talent in the competitive poker circuit.
Casino.org reports she was known to be a regular player at Commerce and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles and appeared from time-to-time on the original poker online stream Live at the Bike from the in Bell Gardens.
Police believe Zhao (left and right) was killed before being burned but have not released what they believe the suspect’s motive to be
She lived in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas for a decade before moving back to live with her parents in Michigan this year. Pictured: Zhao during a poker game
Despite her winnings, they added that the move back to Michigan had been driven by Zhao no longer being able to afford rent in Los Angeles, putting an end to her city-hopping lifestyle and placing a hold on her poker career.
‘She really was an excellent player. One of the best in LA at the level we played at the Commerce Casino and it’s the biggest poker room in the world,’ fellow competitor and friend, Bart Hanson, told WXYZ.
‘I never would have thought anyone would’ve wanted to do anything to her. She had such a great attitude and so much spirit. It’s just awful.’
However, he adds that he feels it’s unlikely that her poker career played any role in her death.
The FBI is asking anyone with information to call at 1-800-2255-324 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.