Authorities have released details surrounding the vicious murder of a 29-year-old lone hiker in Phoenix, Arizona who was found dead on a community trail last weekend. According to the Phoenix Police Department, Lauren Heike was found with 15 stab wounds and injuries on her hands and forearms after being brutally attacked by 22-year-old Zion William Teasley on Saturday, April 29.
DNA, video and cell phone evidence all linked Teasley to the crime, prosecutors allege.
Investigators say they believe the 29-year-old woman had been chased over a barbed wire fence along the community trail based on the condition of her clothes. Her belongings were found scattered along the trail.
Security cameras in the area recorded Heike and the suspect walking separately along the same path around the time of the murder.
“The suspect ran after Lauren and then sprinted away before returning to the location where Lauren’s body was found and climbing over the barbed wire,” Teasley’s probable cause statement read.
Police say the man was known to carry a pocketknife with a three-inch blade, which is consistent with the wounds found on Heike’s body.
Cell phone data recording his location reportedly matched the surveillance video evidence.
At this time, police do not have a motive attached to the seemingly random murder.
“I do believe at this time that the attack was random, however we have not concluded our investigation,” Lt. James Hester said at a news conference Friday, May 5.
“I do believe at this time that the attack was random, however we have not concluded our investigation.”
— Lt. James Hester, Phoenix Police Department
Teasley, a source told Fox News, is being charged with first-degree murder. He also has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2020 for charges including assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, robbery, armed robbery and burglary.
A judge set the suspect’s bond at $1 million. However, since Teasley is on probation for a past conviction, he could remain behind bars.
Prosecutors say the 22-year-old had a plane ticket to Detroit. He told investigators it was because his aunt died, but that has yet to be confirmed.
He is the same man who was seen in blurry surveillance footage running from the trail around the time Lauren Heike was attacked, officials confirmed.
Heike was found dead around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 along a popular community trail near where she lived, the Phoenix Police Department said.
Police said the body was identified as Heike. She was pronounced dead at the scene and was found to have “trauma to her body,” according to investigators.
Heike’s family shared an emotional message after Phoenix police arrested Teasley on Thursday, May 4.
“We are breathing a sigh of relief this morning knowing another family will not have to walk in our shoes because of this person,” Tana Heike wrote in a Facebook post Friday morning. “Although this doesn’t bring our Lowie back and the journey ahead is sad and daunting we are eternally grateful for the love and support we’ve received from the moment she went missing.”
“We are breathing a sigh of relief this morning knowing another family will not have to walk in our shoes because of this person.”
— Tana Heike
Heike’s mom went on to say that the family was overwhelmed with the number of support and prayers that they’ve received.
“I think that’s a testament to what a beautiful person Lauren was,” Lana wrote.