A convicted criminal who is accused of stabbing an Arizona esthetician who was on a hike 15 times has been indicted in her murder just weeks after her brutal slaying.
On Monday, Zion William Teasley, 22, was given formal notice that he is suspected in the death of Lauren Heike, 29, who was found with more than a dozen stab wounds.
Heike’s body – which was scraped up and bloodied – was found 24 hours after she went missing on April 28 while going for a hike on Reach 11 trail in Phoenix.
Teasley, who has a criminal record dating back to 2020 which includes assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, armed robbery, and burglary is currently being held following his May 4 arrest.
If found guilty, Teasley could face the death penalty, which prosecutors said could be on the table in the gruesome murder.
‘My heart goes out to the victim’s family and the pain they are experiencing losing their loved one in this manner,’ said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. ‘Our office will work diligently to seek justice for Lauren and her family.’
Zion William Teasley, 22, was indicted on one count of first-degree murder in Heike’s death. Pictured: Teasley during a hearing following his arrest on May 4
Lauren Heike, 29, who was killed on a hiking trail after being stabbed 15 times in the back and chest fought off her attacker and ran away before she collapsed
Prosecutors say that a combination of DNA and other evidence links the Phoenix man to Heike’s murder.
Included is video of him allegedly fleeing as well as footage showing Teasley and Heike walking separately on the same path around the time of her murder.
‘Our office will work diligently to seek justice for Lauren and her family,’ said Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell in a statement released on Monday
Police claim the 29-year-old woman, who was found dead on the Reach 11 trail was chased over a barbed wire fence, which tore at her clothing.
Investigators also found her belongings along the trail, which they said indicated she attempted to escape her attacker, which police said happened at ‘random.’
Cell phone records allegedly placed Teasley at the scene of the crime on top of the DNA and video footage collected.
The indictment filed Monday indicates prosecutors believe Teasley knew his conduct could cause injury or death.
Maricopa County officials also said the charge counts as ‘a dangerous felony’ because Teasley used a knife repeatedly to injure the esthetician.
An indictment is a formal notice given to an accused person indicating that a grand jury believes they committed a crime.
It is different than a charge, which comes from prosecutors.
Teasley is still in custody as officials said he should not be released because he was already out on probation for a previous conviction.
He was released from prison in November after being sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to robbery with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct and robbery in June 2020.
Teasley, who has a criminal record dating back to 2020 which includes assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, armed robbery, and burglary is currently being held
This is the statement issued by Mitchell and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
Police claim the 29-year-old woman (pictured), who was found dead on the Reach 11 trail was chased over a barbed wire fence, which tore at her clothing
This is where Heike was discovered after going missing when she went for a hike
The Reach 11 trail where Heike was taking a hike and went missing on April 28
Phoenix homicide Lt. James Hester initially revealed that Heike managed to fight off the attacker and get away before she died.
‘I believe she fought him off and she was able to get away but her injuries were too severe for her to continue,’ he said at a press conference in early May.
A probable cause affidavit revealed that the suspected killer had recently been fired from his job at a nearby sports store for being ‘aggressive’ to female employees.
He was also accused of stealing from the store.
An investigation after her murder found his DNA on a shoe that Lauren discarded as she attempted to scale the barbed wire fence.
Police were able to track down Teasley because of a sample in their system from a prior felony conviction.
In addition to the first-degree murder indictment, he was charged with breaching his probation.
The convicted felon dropped out of the Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego after just four months, first entering the training in March 2019.
A Marine Corps spokesman confirmed that he had separated from the training in June 2019, and his arrest documents confirmed that he was not on active duty.
Police tracked down Teasley because of a sample in their system from a felony conviction. Pictured: Teasley being arrested by police on May 4 in Arizona
Police have not confirmed if Teasley knew Heike, but confirmed in a court hearing that the incident was ‘premeditated’
Heike collapsed after escaping from 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
An investigation found Teasley’s DNA on a shoe that Heike discarded as she attempted to scale the barbed wire fence. Pictured: Teasley as he was arrested earlier this month in Phoenix
The motive in the murder remains unknown.
After his arrest, Sergeant Melissa Soliz said detectives were searching for clues as to what may have caused the ‘random’ and brutal murder.
‘Detectives are serving a search warrant at the man’s apartment and he was taken into custody this evening at around 6.30pm,’ Soliz said.
‘This is going to take a while for our detectives to sift through all this evidence, process it, collect it and hope to have some more answers later.
‘With this man taken into custody, I can tell you that he is the same person that was shown on the video clip that we shared with you all a few days ago.
‘With this information we hope that the community tonight can rest a little easier knowing that this person is off the streets,’ the sergeant said.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk