Phoenix Murder Trial: Death Penalty Sought for Accused Hiker Killer

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a man accused of murdering a woman on a hiking trail. Zion Teasley, 22, is accused of stabbing 29-year-old Lauren Heike while they were on a path in Phoenix, Arizona.

According to court documents, the woman was chased before being stabbed 15 times in the back and the chest. Heike’s body was found near Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard, on the Reach 11 trail.

Teasley, who has a criminal record dating back to 2020, was taken into custody on May 4 by the Phoenix Police Department after apparently laying low in a nearby apartment complex. He has previously pleaded not guilty to the homicide of Heike, however, he was indicted on a first-degree murder charge back in May.

The victim’s parents, Jeff and Lana, have released a statement following the prosecutor’s decision to seek the death penalty. They said, “We received word late this afternoon that the MCAO has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Lauren’s murder. Our Family supports MCAO’s decision and we are grateful for the work of both MCAO and Phoenix PD.”

The family continued to say that they know the ‘journey’ through the criminal justice system is ‘just beginning’ but they are determined that their daughter ‘receives justice.’

As we make our way through our first Christmas season without Lauren, our hearts continue to break over her life being cut short by the violent actions of another. However, we want Lauren to be remembered for the beautiful and kind person that she was. We have hope and find joy in the knowledge that we will someday be reunited with Lauren. We ask for your prayers and for privacy at this time.

Teasley was previously enlisted in the Marines, however, he was only with the Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego for a short period of time. A Marine Corps spokesperson has confirmed that he did not complete the training.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has been contacted for comment.