The heartbroken mother of the Arizona woman who was found dead on a Phoenix hiking trail said Friday that the family is “at a loss for words” as they grapple with the gruesome slaying — but relieved that the alleged killer had been nabbed before he could inflict more violence.
Lauren Heike’s mother, Lana, paid tribute to her daughter and thanked authorities for their work securing the arrest of ex-Marine Zion Teasley in connection to the April 29 stabbing death.
“We are breathing a sigh of relief this morning knowing another family will not have to walk in our shoes because of this person,” Lana wrote on Facebook Friday morning.
“Although this doesn’t bring our Lowie back and the journey ahead is sad and daunting we are eternally grateful for the love and support we’ve received from the moment she went missing,” Lana wrote of Teasley’s arrest.
One day before Teasley was taken into custody, Lana shared a gut-wrenching tribute remembering her daughter, who was found dead on a popular hiking trail near her home.
“We are at a loss for words and our grief is tremendous, but we also realize that her friends and family are grieving with us,” she wrote.
“Our memories of Lauren’s kind, beautiful heart are comforting us right now. We get peace knowing she was very happy, loving her life and dreaming of the future she was creating.
Lauren Heike’s body was found over the weekend.Facebook / Lana Heike
Lana and Jeff Heike mourned their daughter at a press conference on Wednesday.Cheryl Evans/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
“She loved us and she knew how much we loved her, our sun rose and set around her.”
Law enforcement said on Wednesday that Heike had likely been attacked from behind and her body appeared to have suffered “trauma.”
Both Lana and Lauren’s father, Jeff Heike, were present at the emotional press conference.
“She was my little girl. I’m really going to miss her,” Jeff said.
On Thursday evening, five days after Lauren’s body was found, law enforcement announced that a suspect had been arrested at a home about one mile from the murder scene.
Officials had previously warned the public to look out for the male in his 20s seen fleeing the trail just moments after police believe Lauren was killed.
A suspect was arrested on Thursday.Telemundo Arizona
The suspect – identified on Friday as 24-year-old Teasley, who is a convicted felon – was linked to Lauren through DNA evidence, CBS 5 reported.
Prior to her death, Lauren reportedly worked as an esthetician. She was previously employed at Admire Medical Aesthetics in Silverdale.
“Lauren touched the hearts of many with her kind and sweet nature, and her beloved clients always looked forward to seeing her,” the medispa wrote on Facebook this week.
Lauren is believed to have been attacked by the suspect from behind.Instagram / @lohighkey
“We will always remember the laughter and smiles that Lauren brought to each of us. Her warmth and compassion made her not just a great esthetician, but a wonderful human being. It is a true loss to everyone that she has touched.”
When reached by phone on Friday, Admire Medical declined to comment on the case.