Phoenix police arrest suspect in connection with 29-year-old woman found dead on desert hiking trail

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The Phoenix Police Department announced they have made an arrest in connection with the death of a 29-year-old female hiker who was found dead on a community hiking trail in a desert area over the weekend. 

At a news conference on Thursday, May 4, deputies announced the suspect’s arrest and described him as a man in his early 20s, but did not release the person’s exact identity. The Arizona police department had previously shared a blurry image of the suspect after 29-year-old Lauren Heike was found dead on Saturday, April 29. 

Investigators said the suspect was arrested at the apartment complex where he lived, and a search warrant was served on his apartment. They also said the suspect was taken to the Phoenix Police headquarters for questioning.

Lauren Heike

Heike’s mother and father remembered her as a beautiful and sweet person. (Phoenix Police Department)

person of interest

Detectives said a person of interest in this surveillance image is wanted for questioning in the death of Lauren Heike. (Phoenix Police Department)

Amber Winter, who lived in the same apartment complex as the suspect, shared a video of the unidentified suspect being arrested in a dramatic series of events. 

“It was around 6:00 p.m., I was walking my dog, saw about three SWAT trucks come in, 15 undercover vehicles pull up to a building,” Winter told FOX 10 Phoenix. “They literally blew the door down, went in, screaming ‘get on the ground! Get on the ground!’ They detained the supposed suspect, and brought him out. He sat there for a while, while they went inside and were searching and were interviewing people.”

“They literally blew the door down, went in, screaming ‘get on the ground! Get on the ground!’”

— Amber Winter

The body of Heike was found along a popular community trail after police received a report of an apparent injured person around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29. The 29-year-old went hiking around 10 a.m. on Friday on the trail near 6500 East Libby Street, close to where she lived, the Phoenix Police Department said. 

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Police said the body was identified as Heike. She was pronounced dead at the scene and was found to have “trauma to her body,” according to investigators.

Phoenix Homicide Lt. James Hester told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday, May 3 that Heike was found in a location that was not easily visible from the trail. Hester said she was attacked from behind and died due to her injuries.

Lauren Heike

Lauren Heike, 29, was found dead along a community hiking trail in Phoenix over the weekend. (Phoenix Police Department)

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At a news conference, Heike’s family remembered their daughter as a beautiful and sweet child “who was everything to us.”

“It’s horrific. As hard as this is for us, we’re grateful because we had such a beautiful child,” Heike’s mother Lana said. “We’re grateful because she had such beautiful friends.”

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Her father shared that he hopes that whoever is responsible for his daughter’s death is held accountable.

“She was my little girl, and I’m going to miss her terribly,” said her father, Jeff. “I just hope they can find whoever did this to her.”

“She was my little girl, and I’m going to miss her terribly.”

— Jeff Heike, Father



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