What happened to Lauren Heike? Arrest made after Phoenix hiker is killed near Libby Street

Lauren Heike (Image via Southern Man/Twitter)
Lauren Heike (Image via Southern Man/Twitter)

Nearly five days after 29-year-old Lauren Heike was found dead on a hiking trail in Libby Street, the Phoenix Police Department on Thursday, May 4, announced the arrest of an unnamed suspect in the case. The arrest comes on the heels of authorities releasing an image of a person of interest after the victim was found dead on a popular hiking trail near 6500 East Libby Street, close to where she lived.

On April 29, Lauren Heike was viciously attacked by an unknown assailant while hiking on the Reach 11 trail just north of Phoenix. While the Phoenix Police Department did not disclose the cause of death, they confirmed that Lauren Heike was attacked from behind and sustained trauma to her body.

On May 3, authorities revealed a grainy image of the suspect enlisting the public's help to capture the assailant. After an intensive search for the perpetrator, on May 4, authorities said they have the suspect in custody but have yet to disclose his name. Police have also yet to reveal if there was a potential link between the suspect and the victim.

Details of Lauren Heike's death explored

In a press release, the Phoenix Police Department said that on Saturday, officers responded to a 911 call at about 10.30 am about a woman found dead in the desert area near 6500 Libby Street. Upon arrival, police reportedly found Lauren Heike’s body concealed in a seemingly isolated spot on the community hiking trail, preventing other people from spotting the body.

Briefly outlining the incident, police said that Heike was out on the trail at 10 am when she was supposedly fatally attacked from behind, sustaining “trauma to her body.”

On Wednesday, May 3, investigators released a short surveillance clip of a potential suspect. At the time, police described the person of interest as a male who is believed to be between 5’8 and 6 feet tall. They added that the suspect was wearing dark clothing and was carrying a backpack.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Phoenix Homicide Lt. James Hester further commented saying:

"The behavior, in my opinion, was so heinous that I would imagine that the subject would be displaying behavior symptoms that just would look out of place.”

"She was my little girl": Lauren's father, during a press conference

Following the incident, Lauren Heike's devastated parents described their daughter as a funny and kind individual who will be terribly missed. In the press conference alongside the police, Lauren’s mom, Lana Heike, said:

"She was beautiful inside and out. She had such a kind heart. Everybody who met her, loved her. She was super funny. She was just a sweet child – just everything to us."

Lauren’s dad, Jeff Heike, added:

"She was my little girl. I'm going to miss her terribly. I just hope they can find whoever did this to her."

Police have confirmed that the suspect arrested on Thursday is the same man in the surveillance video, adding that he was linked to the murder through DNA evidence.

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Edited by Shreya Das