Forensics Discover Susie Zhao was Burned Alive by Killer Jeffery Bernard Morris3 weeks ago
Accused murderer Jeffery Bernard Morris has been bound over for trial in the torture-related killing of Michigan poker player Suzie Zhao following a “show cause” hearing on Monday, September 14th. In the hearing, according to a forensic examiner, Zhao was extensively burned while alive by Morris after being bound with zip-ties within a motel room near Pontiac, Michigan.
Oakland County (Michigan) Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Hanosh confirmed the worst version of the facts that fit the information about Zhao’s murder that had been previously released. Dr. Hanosh told the courtroom that inside the Sherwood Motel room just outside Pontiac, Zhao suffered burns to over 90% of her body. Morris is alleged to have burned off Zhao’s hair, burned her genitals, and even her tongue, and Dr. Hanosh testified that he found soot in Zhao’s trachea, confirming that she was alive through the ordeal before succumbing to the extensive burn damage.
Zhao’s body was discovered on the morning of July 13 in the parking lot of a nearby wildlife preserve / recreation area. According to a Detroit news outlet, one of the men who discovered Zhao’s body, Ronald Granville, didn’t even think it was a real body at first.
"It was hard to tell if it was [a] Halloween prank or mannequin that was burned," he told the court.
Authorities linked Zhao to the 60-year-old Morris within days of the slaying. Morris, who has a long and violent criminal history in two states, was taken into custody on July 31 just a few miles from where the torture-murder occurred. Cell phone records connected Zhao to Morris, and security video obtained by investigators showed the two together on July 12, before the torture and murder occurred. On Monday, FBI agent George Rienirth testified that both Zhao and Morris had stayed in the room -- Room #7 -- where the torture slaying occurred, but on separate occasions, yet did not detail the circumstances of how they believe the two came into personal.
Cel-phone records had already linked Morris to Zhao, but also to the location, several miles away from the motel, where the men discovered Zhao’s body. Morris was charged with first-degree homicide last month and faces life in prison if convicted. Michigan is among 22 US states that do not have the death penalty.
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