Ex-convict charged with killing Phoenix woman on a hike

The tragic death of Lauren Heike, who was brutally assaulted and fatally stabbed while trekking a desert trail in northeast Phoenix, has led to the indictment of a former convict. Zion Teasley, 22, faces first-degree murder charges in connection with the horrific crime, announced the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Monday.

Teasley’s legal representation, if any, remains unconfirmed at this time.

Phoenix authorities discovered the 29-year-old woman’s lifeless body on April 29 near a hiking trail, roughly half a mile from her residence. Investigators suspect the murder took place a day prior to the discovery.

Court records reveal a chilling account of Heike’s final moments, as her hands and arms bore defensive wounds, suggesting a desperate struggle against her assailant. The disturbing possibility that she may have been pursued through a barbed wire fence added another grim layer to the gruesome narrative.

Despite the gruesome details surrounding the crime, the motive behind Heike’s murder remains puzzling. Authorities believe Teasley followed Heike on the trail and launched an unprovoked attack.

Teasley was apprehended on May 4. A combination of DNA evidence from the crime scene and surveillance footage played a significant role in linking him to Heike’s murder.

Records from the Arizona Department of Corrections reveal Teasley’s criminal past, showing that he served a 16-month sentence at a state prison in Eloy for armed robbery and multiple felonies. He was released in November 2020.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell expressed deep sympathy for Heike’s family, pledging her office’s commitment to pursuing justice on their behalf.

Heike’s mother, enduring a painful loss, fondly remembered her daughter as a person of inner and outer beauty. A recent resident of the area, Heike had moved to Phoenix from her native Washington State.