An Arizona beautician who was killed on a hiking trail after being stabbed 15 times in the back and chest managed to fight off her attacker and run before collapsing.
Lauren Heike, 29, was found dead on April 28 on the Reach 11 trail as police spent a week hunting for her killer.
She fought for her life and managed to escape after being “randomly” attacked by alleged killer Zion Teasley, 22, according to Phoenix police.
But Heike later collapsed and died from the severe stab wounds and her escape may have been a factor why it took more than 24 hours for her body to be found.
Authorities believe she was “run through or over a barbed wire fence,” and Teasley, an ex-Marine and convicted felon, has been charged with murder.
Lauren Heike, 29, who was killed on a walking tail after being stabbed 15 times in the back and chest, fought off her attacker and ran away before collapsing
Zion William Teasley, 22, appeared in Maricopa County Court on April 28 after being charged with the April 28 murder of Lauren Heike, 29
Lauren Heike was found dead on the Reach 11 trail on April 28, as police spent a week searching for her killer
Murder in Phoenix Lt. James Hester revealed that Heike managed to fend off the attacker and get away before she died.
“I believe she knocked him off and she was able to escape, but her injuries were too serious to continue,” he said at a press conference on Friday.
He said she probably didn’t know Teasley, who is accused of premeditating Heike’s murder and stabbing her 15 times in the back and chest after stalking her on the hiking trail.
Hester added: “He was quickly found in an apartment not far from the crime scene.”
Agents are still investigating whether Heike was sexually abused before the murder, but according to the police, that is probably not the case.
Court documents obtained by DailyMail.com show that Teasley was captured on April 28 on surveillance footage that followed Heike for some time.
He was then caught on camera returning to the area where her body was discovered and climbing the fence again.
A probable cause statement also revealed that the suspected killer had recently been fired from his job at a nearby sporting goods store for being “aggressive” towards female employees and for theft.
His DNA was found on a shoe that Lauren threw away when she tried to climb over the barbed wire.
Police were able to track Teasley because of an example in their system of a previous felony conviction.
Teasley was released from prison in November after being sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty in June 2020 to robbery with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct and robbery.
He has been charged with violating his probation and with first-degree murder, which means he could face the death penalty if found guilty.
The convicted felon dropped out of the Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego after just four months and began training for the first time in March 2019.
A Marine Corps spokesperson confirmed that he was separated from training in June 2019, and his arrest documents confirmed that he was not on active duty.
Lauren suffered 15 stab wounds to her upper body and had defensive wounds on her hands.
Lauren Heike fought for her life and managed to escape when she was ‘randomly’ attacked by alleged killer Zion Teasley, according to Phoenix police
She was found dead on the Reach 11 trail on April 28, as police searched for her killer for a week
Teasley was identified from surveillance footage by his parole officer, as well as his former employer.
They told officers he was “recently fired for aggressive behavior towards female employees” and also for theft from the store.
Phone records also placed Teasley in the same area as Lauren before her death, facing the same direction as the footage.
His employer also confirmed that he was carrying a pocketknife, which police say matches the murder weapon.
When arrested by officers, the suspected killer said, “I’m definitely not here for a sex crime. I haven’t been with anyone for a long time.’
The statement of probable cause also stated that during his interview he talked about “growing up as a Christian and his inner struggle with his own sexuality.”
It added, “Zion was concerned about the salvation of his soul because of his thoughts.”
He also identified himself as the man in the footage, before telling officers he recognized Lauren from the news and “wanted to look like her.”
Teasley claimed he “walked to a nearby movie theater,” admitting to officers that he knew Lauren had been assaulted but “had a hard time admitting she was killed.”
When asked if he intended to kill Lauren, he said, “I’m definitely not the person who intends to kill another person. If I did something like that, it wouldn’t be premeditated. ‘
During his first trial, he was given $1 million cash bail for the offense, but was taken into custody without bail in connection with the murder charge.
Prosecutors told the court there was “photographic evidence” linking him to the crime, adding that people who knew him identified him as the person in the surveillance footage released by police.
A chilling clip showed a lone figure sprinting down the path from the direction where Lauren’s body was found.
Lawyers confirmed that DNA evidence also linked him to the crime, as well as telephone evidence and “circumstantial evidence.”
Heike collapsed after escaping her attacker and died from the severe stab wounds. Her escape may have been a factor as to why it took more than 24 hours for her body to be found
Heike’s mother said in tears: ‘As difficult as this is for us, we are grateful that we have had such a beautiful child. We will love her every minute we are on this earth”
Footage created by Telemundo Arizona showed officers handcuffing Teasley as he was placed in a police car
The court heard several people he works with knew he had a knife that they say was “consistent with the murder weapon.”
Prosecutors also confirmed that he posed a flight risk and had purchased a plane ticket departing Thursday night for Detroit.
Teasley remained silent during the ten-minute hearing, speaking only to confirm his name and date of birth.
He was charged with several counts of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and third-degree burglary.
Ten charges were dropped after he entered a plea deal with prosecutors, dropping some of the more serious crimes.
Teasley spent 16 months in Eloy’s Red Rock Correctional Facility before being released in November.
He was arrested at his home in Scottsdale, less than a mile from the trail where Lauren’s body was found.
Before appearing in court, Sergeant Melissa Soliz said: “Detectives are serving a search warrant at the man’s apartment and he was taken into custody at around 6:30pm tonight.
“At this point, he is the person we believe is responsible for or connected to the murder of Lauren Heike.
Photos of Teasley’s arrest were taken by Telemundo, as the suspect sat on the sidewalk quietly talking to police
Police have not confirmed whether Teasley knew Lauren, but confirmed at a hearing that the incident was ‘premeditated’
A reward of up to $2,000 was offered for any information related to the case
“It will take our detectives a while to sift through all this evidence, process it, collect it, and hope to have more answers later.
“Now that this man has been taken into custody, I can tell you that he is the same person who was featured in the video clip we shared with all of you a few days ago.
“With this information, we hope the community can rest a little tonight knowing this person is off the streets.”
Lauren previously worked as an esthetician for Admire Medical Aesthetics in Washington before moving to Arizona.
The charge against Teasley comes a day after Lauren’s father, Jeff Heike, paid tribute to his daughter by saying, “She was my little girl.” I’m really going to miss her.