Man Arrested In Fatal Stabbing Of 29-Year-Old Woman On Phoenix Hiking Trail
29-year-old Lauren Heike was hiking on a trail on April 28, 2023 when she was attacked and brutally murdered. Now, 22-year-old Zion Teasley has been charged with her murder.
On April 28, 2023, Lauren Heike, a 29-year-old esthetician who had recently moved to the Phoenix area, went for a hike on a neighborhood trail and tragically never returned home.
In the initial media advisory released after Heike’s murder, the Phoenix Police Department revealed that Heike was killed in a desert area near 6500 East Libby Street in Phoenix. Police responded to a call from a passerby who discovered her body on a trail that wasn’t easily visible. They found Heike on April 29, the day after she was killed, and she was pronounced dead at the scene by the fire department.
According to KTAR, the young woman’s body was found less than a half-mile from where she lived. Police believe she was attacked from behind.
Police revealed surveillance footage of a person of interest who appeared to be a male running on the trail. Police used DNA evidence recovered from the scene as well as the surveillance video to identify the suspect as 22-year-old Zion William Teasley.
On Thursday, May 4, Teasley was charged with first-degree murder, and he was arrested and booked into jail. He was taken into custody at the apartment complex where he lived which was less than two miles from the crime scene.
Prosecutors revealed that, at the time of his arrest, Teasley had a plane ticket and an apparent plan to flee to Detroit.
On Friday, May 5, Teasley appeared before a judge, and bail was set at $1 million. ABC15 reported that Teasley was released from prison in November 2022 after serving time for robbery, armed robbery, and disorderly conduct.
Teasley had previously been fired from his job for being “aggressive toward female employees” in addition to being “suspected of stealing merchandise."
He had also previously enlisted as a marine, but he never finished boot camp. ABC15 reported a response from the U.S. Marine Corps. They stated, "Our records indicate that Zion W. Teasley entered recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot San Diego on March 25, 2019. He was separated June 17, 2019, prior to completing boot camp. Additional details are not releasable due to Privacy Act."
On May 5, police held a news conference. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego spoke and stated, "Lauren was doing something all of us enjoy, taking a hike in the beautiful Phoenix trails in springtime and her life was cut short by this inexplicable act of violence.”
Phoenix Police Homicide Lieutenant James Hester shared, “The killer responsible for Lauren’s death is in custody. Our community can breathe easier knowing that this suspect will not be able to harm anyone else, but that does little to ease the pain for Lauren's family. This is not a time for celebration."
While seeking justice, Lauren Heike’s family continues to grieve and process this huge loss.
"She was beautiful inside and out. 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," Heike's mom, Lana Heike, said about her daughter, according to PEOPLE.
Although an arrest has been made, you can still report any information to the Phoenix Police Department, or you can report info anonymously to Silent Witness (480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish).