Police have released chilling video footage of a shadowy figure sprinting through the woods as the search continues for the person who killed a woman on a popular hiking trail in Phoenix.
Lauren Heike, 29, was believed to be hiking alone Friday morning on the Reach 11 trail not far from her home when she was attacked from behind by an unknown assailant between 10 and 11 a.m.
Her body was found the next day because Phoenix police said she was in an area that isn’t necessarily visible from the trail. Police added that Heike had ‘trauma to her body’ from the ‘vicious’ attack but have not yet shared how she was murdered, but called the killer’s behavior ‘heinous.’
In the short clip police released on Tuesday, the figure running on the trail near where Heike’s body was found, is being called a person of interest who may have information about her murder.
The person of interest is described as thin man with a dark complexion, 5′8″ to 6′ tall, who was wearing a gray or lighter-colored shirt, dark pants, a dark backpack, and shoes, police said in an update on Wednesday.
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Lauren Heike, 29, was hiking Friday on the Reach 11 trail not far from her Phoenix home when she was attacked and killed. Her body was found the next day
Police have released chilling video footage of a shadowy figure sprinting through the woods as the search continues for the suspect who killed a woman on a popular hiking trail in Phoenix
On April 29, Phoenix Police responded to the area what was described as a ‘desert area’ near 6500 E. Libby Street after receiving a report of an injured person.
Phoenix Homicide Lt. James Hester said in a press conference on Wednesday said they believe someone might have seen the suspect before or after the attack and asked the community to come together to help find him.
‘We believe someone would have noticed this person either before the attack or after he fled from our scene,’ Lt. Hester said.
Further details about the murder, including how Heike was killed or if a weapon was used, have not been released with police worried about that information harming the investigation.
‘The behavior, in my opinion, was so heinous that I would imagine that the subject would be displaying symptoms that look out of place,’ Lt. Hester added.
At the press conference on Wednesday, Heike’s heartbroken family and friends gathered to plead with the public for any information that may bring police closer to finding the killer.
At the press conference on Wednesday, Heike’s heartbroken family and friends gathered to plead with the public for any information that may bring police closer to finding the killer
Heike’s parents Lana and Jeff tearfully said they just want justice for their daughter
Police have not said if this was a random attack or if it was potentially someone Heike knew
Lana Heike described her daughter as a beautiful, kindhearted woman who was sweet to everyone she met.
‘We want somebody to come forward and help us find this person,’ Heike’s mother Lana said.
‘Somebody wearing a backpack or a hoodie or whatever the video, it’s hard to tell in a sunny hot day, that person will stand out. When you’ve done something, you’re going to be unusual,’ Lana added.
‘Please think if you had seen something, were in that area, if you know of somebody strange or acting weird. Somebody knows this person.’
Her parents tearfully said they just want justice for their daughter.
Lana added: ‘As hard as this is for us, we’re grateful because we had such a beautiful child. We will love her every minute that we are on this Earth.’
‘She was my little girl. I’m really going to miss her,’ her father, Jeff, said. ‘I know someone knows something and they can help us.’
Police have not said whether this was a random attack or if it was potentially someone Heike knew.
But the Arizona woman, who had moved there from Washington, was well-liked and left a lasting impression on everyone she met.
Heike moved to Arizona from Washington, was well-liked and left a lasting impression
Her boss, Brian Thorne Troon North Golf Club, where she worked as a server, said they are all saddened by Heike’s death and described her as a lovely person
Heike’s mother tearfully said: ‘As hard as this is for us, we’re grateful because we had such a beautiful child. We will love her every minute that we are on this Earth’
Her boss, Brian Thorne of Troon North Golf Club, where she worked as a server, told local news outlets that their staff is shocked and saddened by her death. He described Heike as a lovely person and said this tragedy has been tough on all the staff.
Heike had previously worked as an esthetician for Admire Medical Aesthetics in Washington. The company posted a heartfelt tribute on their Facebook page.
‘It is with a heavy heart that we learned of the passing of Lauren Heike, a former esthetician for Admire Medical Aesthetics. Lauren touched the hearts of many with her kind and sweet nature, and her beloved clients always looked forward to seeing her.
‘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.’
‘Our condolences go out to Lauren’s family during this difficult time. We hope that they find some comfort in the knowledge that Lauren’s memory will always be cherished by those whose lives she touched.’
Neighbors in the area and hikers who frequent the trail say they’re now looking over their shoulders.
‘I just woke up to all the police coming in, and they could actually see all the vehicles in the back, driving around, all the police. I would say the neighborhood is just a little bit somber right now. They’re probably a little sketched out, looking over their shoulder. Definitely not something that they saw coming,’ one neighbor said.
‘It’s heartbreaking,’ hiker Tom Chamberlain told Fox13 Seattle.
‘I would not be comfortable if she were hiking alone on this trail now. Before, I thought it was North Scottsdale. It’s totally fine.’
Some have suggested that warning signs should be posted around the community.
‘It would be nice. I’m lucky we do this together. If I were to come out here in the morning for a run, it would change my opinion completely about doing this,’ Naomi Kight said.
A reward of up to $2,000 is offered for any information related to the case
Police have offered advice for hikers and said the safety of the community is their top priority.
‘The safety of our community is our top priority. We would like to remind everyone to be aware of your surroundings. If a hike or walk is in your plans, do so with a partner. If you see something suspicious call police and be a good witness,’ police cautioned.
Anyone with information is asked to call Phoenix police. To remain anonymous, you can call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (480-948-6377) or 480-TESTIGO (480-837-8446). You can also leave a tip at silentwitness.org.
A reward of up to $2,000 is offered for any information related to the case.