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Zhao’s body was discovered near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area on the outskirts of Detroit around 8:30 a.m. on July 13, a day after her mother had last reported seeing her.
White Lake Township Police released a statement on July 20, detailing the investigation into Zhao’s death, describing the body as “badly burned” as part of a “mysterious death.”
Authorities said a motive is unclear, but police speculated that Zhao’s death may be connected to her gambling in other states. She arrived from Los Angeles only a few days prior. Zhao moved between Los Angeles and Las Vegas before recently moving to Michigan to live with her parents and “confront challenges in her personal life,” friends told WXYZ-TV.
Zhao, 33, was last seen alive by her mother July 12 at 5:30 p.m., according to the White Lake Township Police Department.
“Surprised, confused and saddened,” said her former roommate Yuval Bronshtein. “It’s hard to picture her having enemies.”
The FBI is also assisting in the investigation, WXYZ reported.
“You have to determine whether or not this is a cover-up, or this may be some sort of retaliatory incident because of her profession,” said Detective Chris Hild of White Lake Township Police, according to WIFR.
Police described the window as “very narrow” between Zhao’s last contact with her mother and the discovery of her body.
“We still are looking for anybody that may have seen or talked to Susie between Sunday at about 5:30 p.m. and early hours of Monday morning,” an unnamed official told the press.