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Crime News Murders

Suspected Killer Arrested for ‘Viciously’ Attacking Phoenix Hiker Lauren Heike on Trail

"She was beautiful inside and out," Lauren Heike’s mom, Lana Heike, said.

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

Authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with the murder of a 29-year-old Arizona woman whose body was found in a remote desert area last week.

Phoenix Police announced Thursday that they’d taken a male suspect into custody for the murder of Lauren Heike, who was found dead with trauma to her body along a city trail last weekend. The suspect has been identified by police as Zion Teasley, 22.

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He was booked on first-degree murder and appeared in court Friday morning, according to Phoenix-based station, ABC15. The station reported that law enforcement said Heike was stabbed several times.

On April 29, officers discovered Heike’s body in a desert area shortly after 10:30 a.m. near 6500 East Libby St. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities previously stated that Heike had been "viciously" attacked from behind while traversing the north Phoenix hiking trail. She was "fatally injured” after suffering "trauma to her body." 

A photo of Lauren Heike

Heike’s preliminary autopsy results, including cause of death, haven’t been released. Investigators haven’t specified an exact motive in the woman's death, and it’s unclear if she knew her alleged attacker.

“Details about what led up to this incident are still under investigation,” the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement. “We would like to remind everyone to be aware of your surroundings. If a hike or walk is in your plans, do so with a partner.”

In the wake of Heike’s death, officials also released a short, grainy surveillance footage clip purporting to show her killer, dressed in black, fleeing from the scene of the crime. Police now say they’ve identified the individual in custody as the same person from the recording. The person in the footage was described by police as being between 5-foot-8 and 6-feet tall.

Teasley told authorities “that’s me,” when shown a picture of the suspect while in custody Thursday night, according to ABC15. The suspect was aware that Heike was attacked, “but struggled to admit she was murdered,” according to police, the station reported.

“If I was going to do something like that, it wouldn’t be premeditated,” Teasley allegedly told cops when he was asked if he had planned to kill Heiki.

Heike’s family addressed the media alongside police the same day an arrest was made in her killing. 

"She was beautiful inside and out," Heike’s mom, Lana Heike, told reporters on Wednesday, according to CNN. "She had such a kind heart. Everybody who met her, loved her. She was super funny. She was just a sweet child — just everything to us."

Prior to the apprehension, a $2,000 reward had been offered for any information leading to an arrest in the case.

"She was my little girl. I'm going to miss her terribly," her father, Jeff Heike, said. 

Anyone with additional information pertaining to Heike’s suspected murder is urged to call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-7626.

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