Trail Hiker Didn't See Her Killer Coming. Now, an Arrest

Suspect nabbed less than a week after Lauren Heike was fatally attacked in Phoenix
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2023 11:20 AM CDT

An arrest has been made in the murder of an Arizona hiker who police say was attacked from behind on a neighborhood trail in Phoenix. The suspect in his early 20s was taken into custody around 6:30pm Thursday at his home, which AZ Central reports is "less than a mile from the trail" where 29-year-old Lauren Heike's body was found Saturday morning. KNXV reports the suspect's home is easily accessed from the crime scene over a nearby fence. Police did not identify the man—more information is to be provided Friday—but said he is the same person seen running on the trail in footage shared by officers earlier in the investigation. The New York Post shares photos of his arrest.

Heike, who also lived nearby, had set out on the Reach 11 trail in northeast Phoenix on Friday morning. She is believed to have been killed between 10am and 11am, though her body, which was not visible from the trail, wasn't found until the following day, per AZ Family. She was reportedly stabbed numerous times. Police have not described Heike's injuries but said she was "viciously" attacked from behind, per People. "The behavior, in my opinion, was so heinous that I would imagine that the subject would be displaying symptoms that look out of place," Phoenix Homicide Lt. James Hester said Wednesday. The suspect was later identified through DNA, per AZ Central.

"We're hoping that the community can rest a little easier knowing this person is off the streets," Sgt. Melissa Soliz said Thursday. She did not say if the alleged attacker knew Heike. "Our detectives are going to ensure that every piece of evidence is looked at carefully, every angle and give their full effort on this case," she said. Heike's family members had previously flown in from Washington state to plead for answers in the case. "She was my little girl," Heike's father, Jeff Heike, said through tears, per AZ Central. "I'm really going to miss her." "As hard as this is for us, we're grateful because we had such a beautiful child," added mother Lana Heike. "We will love her every minute that we are on this Earth." (More murder stories.)

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