Mystery as charred body of ‘free spirit’ professional poker player found in park

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Police are probing the “mysterious death” of a professional poker player, whose charred body was found in a car park.

Susie Zhao’s heavily disfigured remains were discovered near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area on the edge of Detroit, Michigan, on July 13.

The 33-year-old was last seen by her mum at 5.30pm the day before, White Lake Township Police Department has confirmed.

Her body was found at around 8.30am off the remote park and officers are urging people who may have seen Ms Zhao from July 11 to come forward – with the FBI also involved in the investigation.

“The female subject was badly burned,” police said in a press release.

Former roommate Yuval Bronshtein told WXYZ-TV: “Surprised, confused, and saddened. It’s hard to picture her having enemies.”

During a police press conference friends also described her as a “free spirit in the truest sense”.

“She played by her own rules, followed her dreams.

“Everybody loved her. We don’t ever remember her falling out with anybody.”

A talented card player, Ms Zhao took part in high stakes matches, often at Commerce and Hollywood Park in Los Angeles, but was also a regular fixture in Las Vegas.

Known as ‘Susie Q’ in the poker world, she had been living in LA for a decade, with some of her career highlights including a $73,000 win at the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event.

She had amassed $224,671 in earnings since 2010, according to the Hendon Mob database.

However, last month she moved back to Michigan to live with her parents and resolve some issues in her personal life, according to reports.

Police have suggested her death might be related to her “gambling in other states, or to somebody local”.

In her Facebook bio, Ms Zhao wrote: “I prance like a unicorn in a sea of horses. I proficiently play high stakes poker for a living. Its kinda weird because I’m a girl.”

A post-mortem has been completed by the Oakland County Medical Examiner, though the results and cause of death have not yet been released.

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