An arrest has been made for the murder of a young female hiker in Phoenix, Arizona. The suspect who has been arrested is a convicted felon who had recently been fired from his job for stealing and being “aggressive” to female employees.

On April 28, 29-year-old Lauren Heike was hiking alone on a Phoenix trail when she was brutally attacked from behind and sustained fatal injuries, including 15 stab wounds. She had defensive wounds on her hands and arms.

Lauren Heike

Heike’s lifeless body was found by a passerby the following morning.

Authorities captured a figure sprinting away from the hiking trail where Heike was killed on surveillance footage and released the image of the potential suspect to the public.

Image from surveillance footage showing a person of interest fleeing the area of Lauren Heike’s murder

On Thursday evening, five days after Heike’s body was discovered, the police were finally able to arrest a suspect who lived less than a mile from the trail where the murder occurred.

According to court papers, while he was being arrested he said, “There’s no freaking way I’m in for a sex crime; I haven’t been with anyone for a long time.”

Murder suspect Zion William Teasley, 22, being arrested outside his Phoenix home

On Friday, the suspect was identified by authorities as 22-year-old Zion William Teasley, who was reportedly linked to the killing through DNA evidence found on Heike’s shoe.

Teasley has a significant criminal record. In 2020, he was charged with third-degree burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, and disorderly conduct. After taking a plea deal, ten charges against him were dropped, many of which were serious felonies.

He only served 16 months in the Red Rock Correctional Facility before being released in November 2022.

In an interview with detectives, Teasley confirmed that he frequently visited the area where Heike was murdered. When shown the surveillance footage, he confirmed that the man shown fleeing the area was him, then later said he wasn’t sure.

When investigators showed Teasley a photo of Heike, he said that he recognized her and “wanted to look like her.” He added that he has struggled with his sexuality, which he claims was especially difficult because he grew up in a Christian family.

When asked by detectives if he had planned to murder Heike, he said, “I am definitely not the person who plans to kill another person. If I was going to do something like that, it wouldn’t be premeditated.”

Teasley had his initial court appearance on Friday and is now being held on $1 million bond in the Maricopa County jail on a first-degree murder charge. The motive is still under investigation.

His next court date is set for May 15.

Zion Wiliam Teasleyy

Heike was described by her parents as “beautiful inside and out.”

“She had such a kind heart,” said Heike’s mother, Lana. “Everybody who met her loved her. She was super funny. She was just a sweet child – just everything to us.”

“She was my little girl,” Heike’s father Jeff said. “I’m going to miss her terribly.”

Lauren Heike

One of Heike’s close friends, River Hubbel, revealed that the two of them shared what they were grateful for each morning. When he spoke to her on Friday morning, the last day of her life, she told Hubbel she was “so thankful to just wake up another day.”

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