Arizona law enforcement is looking for a man they believe killed a 29-year-old woman whose body was found on a popular hiking trail over the weekend. Police say Lauren Heike was the victim of a “brutal attack” as her attacker snuck up on her from behind and killed her.
According to a Phoenix Police Department news release, officers responded to a 911 call around 10:30 a.m. Saturday about a woman found dead in the desert area near 6500 Libby Street.
First responders say they found Heike, who appeared to have suffered “bodily trauma”. Police said her remains were found where she would not have been “readily visible to those using the trail”.
Heike, an exercise enthusiast, was hiking the Reach 11 trail just north of Phoenix around 10 a.m. Friday morning when she was “attacked from behind and died of her injuries,” said Phoenix PD Homicide Lt. James Hester said during a press conference Wednesday. Hester described the attack as vicious and unconscionable.
Investigators this week released video and a still image of an individual initially described as a “person of interest” who is now being labeled a suspect. The video was captured by a resident’s home surveillance camera.
The suspect is described as male, between 5ft 8 and 6ft tall, with a dark complexion. At the time of the attack, the suspect was wearing a light shirt, dark pants and a dark backpack. In the grainy 6-second video, he appears to be jogging or briskly walking through the still camera frame.
Police say that while Heike’s body may not have been easy to spot, they believe the suspect would likely have acted in a suspicious manner that would have been noticeable and memorable.
“We believe someone would have noticed this person either before the attack or after he fled from our scene,” Lt. Hester said. “The behavior, in my opinion, was so abhorrent that I imagine the subject would display symptoms that appear out of place.”
Asked about Heike’s cause of death and whether a weapon was used, Hester said some of the facts of the case are known only to investigators and the killer and they “keep those details close to the vest” so that the investigation is not compromised. He also wouldn’t say if they thought Heike knew the killer.
Police personnel were joined on stage by Heike’s family, who also pleaded with the public to provide any information that would help them get justice for their daughter.
“She got up, talked to her friends. It was her day off, she had her coffee and she went for a walk, and she was happy, happy – that helps us a lot,” said the victim’s mother, Lana Heike. “We need people’s help to tell us what happened after that.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]
#Photo #Lauren #Heike #murder #suspect
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