Police outside Detroit have confirmed that a badly burned female body found in a Michigan Park on July 13 is that of professional poker player Susie Zhao.
Zhao was 33.
The FBI is now also involved in the homicide investigation, WDIV-TV reported, and police are asking the public to provide any leads.
Two hikers found Zhao’s burned remains on at 8:05 a.m. when they pulled into the parking area of a trail head at Pontiac Lake Recreation Are, police told WDIV.
Her mother was the last person to see her, the day before at around 5:30 p.m., according to Casino.org. Police in White Lake Township, Michigan, think she died sometime after 11:45 p.m., but they don’t know how.
Police said in a statement that they are “investigating a mysterious death of a female subject who was badly burned.”
Zhao, known as Susie Q on the poker scene, was a high-stakes player who police said may have been killed over something related to her career.
“We have to determine whether or not this is a cover-up, or this may be some sort of retaliatory incident because of her profession,” Detective Lieutenant Christopher Hild said last Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. He declined to give more information about how she was killed, saying the investigation was still ongoing.
She had winnings of at least $187,441, AP reported, citing the World Series of Poker, $73,805 of it at a 2012 event.
“She really was an excellent player,” fellow player Bart Hanson told WXYZ-TV. “One of the best in L.A. at the level we played at the Commerce Casino, and it’s the biggest poker room in the world.”
Zhao had moved back to Michigan from Los Angeles a month earlier to “confront challenges in her personal life,” friends told WXYZ.
“Surprised, confused, and saddened,” former roommate Yuval Bronshtein told WXYZ. “It’s hard to picture her having enemies.”
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