Alleged Phoenix Killer Used They/Them Pronouns, Makes Disturbing Confession to Police


A suspect in the brutal stabbing death of a young Arizona woman told police when shown a photo of the victim that he “wanted to look like her,” according to news reports.

Zion William Teasley, 22, was arrested May 4 and was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lauren Heike, 29, who was found dead April 28 along a hiking trail near her Phoenix home, AZ Family reported.

She had been stabbed 15 times, according to KSAZ-TV.

“I do believe at this time that the attack was random, however we have not concluded our investigation into that,” Lt. James Hester said, according to the TV news station.

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Teasley was arrested at the Scottsdale home where he lived with his mother, which was less than a mile from the trail where the victim’s body was found, AZ Family reported.

While being questioned, investigators showed a photo of Heike and said Teasley indicated he recognized her and “wanted to look like her.”

“Teasley also reportedly spoke up about growing up as a Christian and about how he struggled with his sexuality, saying in part that he feared his soul’s salvation due to his thoughts,” AZ Family reported.

An archived LinkedIn account for a Zion Teasley of Scottsdale, Arizona, had no profile photo, and showed only a banner that said “Amplify Black Voices.” The account indicated the user prefers “They/Them” pronouns.

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The LinkedIn account biographical information indicates that Teasley served in the Marine Corps for one year and four months, from March 2019 to June 2020, and that he was “medically discharged.”

However, AZ Family reported that a Marine Corps representative “confirmed that Teasley had entered boot camp in March 2019, but left three months later before completing his training.” No details were offered as to why he left.

KSAZ said police have DNA, video and cell phone evidence linking Teasley to the killing.

His bond was set at $1 million, according to that report, but he also was ineligible for bail due to a past conviction.

The news station reported Teasley’s prior criminal record included charges of robbery, kidnapping, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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“As a result of a plea deal, Teasley served time from July 2021 until November 2022,” KSAZ reported.

Based on the condition of the victim’s clothes, and the fact that her belongings were scattered along the trail, police said she apparently tried to negotiate a barbed-wire fence at some point during the ordeal.

The station quoted a probable-cause statement as saying, “The suspect ran after Lauren and then sprinted away before returning to the location where Lauren’s body was found and climbing over the barbed wire.”

A man resembling the suspect was seen walking along the hiking trail around the same time Heike was seen on nearby security cameras, according to the report.

AZ Family said when he was asked whether he had planned to murder Heike, Teasley reportedly responded, “I am definitely not the person who plans to kill another person. If I was going to do something like that, it wouldn’t be premeditated,” according to the report.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.