ARIZONA NEWS

Suspect in death of Lauren Heike indicted on first-degree murder charge

May 22, 2023, 11:58 AM | Updated: May 24, 2023, 6:25 am

Zion William Teasley is accused of killing Lauren Heike. (Photos via Maricopa County Sheriff's Offi...

Zion William Teasley is accused of killing Lauren Heike. (Photos via Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Phoenix Police Department)

(Photos via Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Phoenix Police Department)

PHOENIX – The man accused of killing Lauren Heike while she was going for a walk near her north Phoenix residence last month has been indicted on a charge of first-degree murder, authorities said Monday.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said it was reviewing the case to determine if prosecutors will pursue the death penalty for Zion William Teasley.

“Every first-degree murder case is assessed to determine if the state will seek the death penalty,” Jennifer Liewer, chief of staff for Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, told KTAR News 92.3 FM in a statement. “The office reviews mitigating and aggravating factors in each case that are outlined in state law. The county attorney has not yet made a decision in this case.”

Heike, 29, was found dead in a desert area near a hiking trail around 10:45 a.m. on April 29. She lived near 66th Street and Mayo Boulevard, about half a mile from where she was killed.

Teasley, 22, was arrested May 4 after police used DNA evidence collected at the scene and surveillance video to connect him to the scene.

Teasley was booked into jail on a murder count and also was being held on a probation violation. A grand jury indicted him on May 15.

An attorney entered a not guilty plea on Teasley’s behalf at an arraignment hearing Tuesday. The trial is scheduled to begin in January.

“My heart goes out to the victim’s family and the pain they are experiencing losing their loved one in this manner,” Mitchell said in a press release. “Our office will work diligently to seek justice for Lauren and her family.”

Police said she was walking near 65th Place and Libby Street on April 28 when she was attacked, but her body wasn’t spotted until the next day.

She was stabbed 15 times and may have been chased over or through a barbed wire fence before she was killed, according to court records.

According to corrections department and court records, Teasley was released from prison Nov. 13, 2022, after serving time as part of a plea deal for multiple felonies.

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Suspect in death of Lauren Heike indicted on first-degree murder charge