Stabbing Victim’s Parents Support Death Penalty for Suspect in Phoenix Trail Murder

PHOENIX, Arizona – Prosecutors in Phoenix, Arizona are seeking the death penalty for Zion William Teasley, a 22-year-old man charged with first-degree murder for stabbing a hiker 15 times. The victim, Lauren Heike, 29, was found dead in a desert area behind a resident’s home on April 29. Teasley was observed on surveillance footage walking in the same direction as Heike at the Reach 11 trail in Maricopa County. According to police, both Teasley and Heike were seen walking towards a trail entrance located at 68th Street and Princess Drive just minutes before Heike was last seen going west on the trail, walking in the direction of where she was found dead.

Management from Teasley’s last known employer said that he was recently fired for being aggressive toward female co-workers and was suspected of stealing merchandise. It was confirmed that Teasley routinely carried a pocketknife, which matched the approximate blade size of the wounds discovered on Heike’s body during her autopsy. After finding him, police took Teasley to headquarters and showed him a still picture from video surveillance of the suspect in the area of the murder. Teasley identified himself as the person in the photograph and continued speaking after his Miranda warning, according to documents.

Teasley claimed to know Heike was attacked, but he “struggled to admit she was murdered” and could not recall if he ever met her. He allegedly said, “I am definitely not the person who plans to kill another person,” when asked if he planned to murder Heike. Prosecutors stated that it was Teasley who stabbed Heike 15 times, killing her, based on the evidence collected. The victim’s parents, Jeff and Lana Heike, expressed their support for the state’s decision against Teasley, welcoming the news of the prosecutor’s intent to seek the death penalty for their daughter’s murder.

This devastating incident has left the Heike family heartbroken and they continue to seek justice for their daughter. Heike’s murder serves as a reminder of the importance of safety while enjoying outdoor activities, and the legal process is expected to bring closure to the family as they navigate through their unimaginable loss. An investigation is ongoing, and the trial will be a significant step towards achieving justice for Lauren Heike.