Arizona police have arrested a man in connection with the murder of a Phoenix woman who was found dead along a hiking trail. Lauren Heike, 29, was found dead on Saturday around 10:30 am near the trail on 6500 East Libby Street, nearly 24 hours after she left her home. Police had earlier released a video that showed the suspect running away from the scene.
A video has emerged that shows the suspect being taken into custody at an apartment complex near Scottsdale and Bell roads Thursday evening. Earlier, Heike's relatives and friends pleaded with the public to help find the person who killed her after she was "viciously" attacked while on a desert hiking trail.
On Wednesday, police released a short surveillance video clip of a man they identified as a suspect in the case. Police have not said if the man arrested is the same man seen in the surveillance video.
Heike, who had recently moved to the Phoenix area from Washington, is believed to have been alone when she was attacked.
Phoenix police initially responded to a complaint regarding an injured person they had seen on the trail. However, it turned out to be Heike's body, which appeared to have suffered "trauma."
Heike was most likely attacked from behind, Phoenix Homicide Lt. James Hester told reporters on Wednesday. Her body was found in a location that was difficult to see from the hiking route.
Hester believes that the alleged murder was so horrific, that the killer would have likely stuck out to anyone who saw them on the hiking trail. Police also released a video of a person they say was seen near the scene where Heike was found dead.
"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," Hester said.
The heinous murder has left Heike's family devastated, who are now pleading with the public to track the person who killed her.
"It's horrific. As hard as this is for us, we're grateful because we had such a beautiful child," Heike's mother Lana told a news conference. "We're grateful because she had such beautiful friends."
Her father Jeff, added: "She was my little girl, and I'm going to miss her terribly. I just hope they can find whoever did this to her."
The man arrested in connection with the murder appears to match the description provided by the police earlier. According to the surveillance footage released by them, the suspect is a thin man with a dark complexion, standing between 5'8" and 6'0", and sporting a gray or lighter-colored shirt, dark jeans, a dark rucksack, and shoes.
"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 said following the release of the video.
Heike's friend River Hubbel revealed to AZCentral that they had spoken immediately before she set out on the Friday morning hike as part of their daily routine of phoning each other to express their gratitude.
"I had asked what we were all thankful for that day and she had specifically just said that she was so thankful to just wake up another day so positive and to be able to go get a coffee and go on a walk," Hubbel said.
Heike's mother also provided some details about Heike's final day.
"She got up, talked to her friends. It was her day off, she got her coffee, and she went walking and she was happy, happy... that helps us a lot," Lana said.
"We need people's help to tell us what happened after that."
Police have withheld additional information about the murder as they don't want to jeopardize their investigation, including how Heike was killed or whether a weapon was used.