Man arrested on suspicion of murder, kidnapping in disappearance of Utah student

SALT LAKE CITY - A man has been arrested and will face charges of murder, kidnapping and obstruction of justice in the death of missing University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown identified the man as Ayoola Ajayi and confirmed he is the person of interest named earlier this week. He also said he would only say the man's name a single time during his remarks, according to KSTU.

"After an exhaustive week of investigation we are filing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body in the homicide of MacKenzie Lueck," Brown said.

Ajayi was arrested Friday morning after SWAT personnel responded to an apartment complex in Salt Lake City. Police said he was on his way to be booked into jail as of about noon Friday.

Brown said their investigation confirmed that all phone and social media activity from Lueck's accounts ceased around 3 a.m. on June 17, shortly after she was last seen at Hatch Park. She had taken a Lyft to the park and the driver told police she willingly got into a vehicle and left the park with someone.

Her last communications were with Ajayi, Brown said, and both parties' cell phones were at Hatch Park within less than of a minute of each other. That overlap occurred shortly before Lueck's online/cellular activity ceased.

Brown said they began investigating Ajayi. When they served a warrant on his home, neighbors reported seeing the man burning something in his backyard, using gasoline as an accelerant, on June 17th and 18th.

"The search warrant resulted in the findings of a fresh dig area on his property, which is the same area that the arrested person was observed burning something" Brown said. "An investigation of the burned area was conducted, which resulted in the finding of several charred items consistent with personal items of MacKenzie Lueck. Other charred material was located that has now been determined to be human female tissue."

DNA testing revealed the tissue is consistent with the DNA profile of Lueck.

Police arrested Ajayi shortly after 9 a.m. Friday morning. Officers are still investigating to determine if the man acted alone or if he had help.

Brown said they notified the Lueck family shortly after.

"This is one of the most difficult phone calls I've ever made, as both Greg and his wife Diana were devastated and heartbroken by this news," Brown said.

 

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.