MacKenzie Lueck: Man accused of murder, kidnapping of Utah college student

Police: Man Accused of Murder, Kidnapping of Missing Utah Student MacKenzie Lueck

SALT LAKE CITY — Police in Salt Lake City arrested a man Friday on suspicion of killing MacKenzie Lueck, the 23-year-old University of Utah student who went missing earlier this month after taking a Lyft from Salt Lake City International Airport.

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The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi, was arrested Friday morning on charges including aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping.

"We are devastated and heartbroken by this news," police Chief Mike Brown said Friday at a news conference announcing the arrest.

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT June 28: Police said the suspect arrested Friday morning, identified as Ayoola Ajayi, would be charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body in connection to Lueck's disappearance.

Police Chief Mike Brown told reporters Ajayi met with MacKenzie at a park that she traveled to after leaving Salt Lake City International Airport early on June 17. He was the last person known to have contacted MacKenzie, Brown said. The chief added that records showed her cellphone was no longer being used starting around 3 a.m. on June 17.

It was not immediately clear how Ajayi and Lueck knew one another but police said they had communicated electronically the day before she disappeared. They did not elaborate on details of that communication.

Neighbors told police they saw Ajayi using gasoline to burn items in his backyard on June 17 and 18. Brown said burned evidence, including Lueck's things and her remains, was found at his home. The home was searched on Wednesday and Thursday and Ajayi was the man previously identified as a person of interest.

Lueck's uncle read a statement Friday thanking the public for their support and asking for privacy.

Update 1:35 p.m. EDT June 28: Police are providing updates on the Lueck's case.

Original report: Authorities apprehended two men, including the person connected to Lueck's disappearance, around 9:20 a.m. at an apartment complex at 1028 S. West Temple, KSL-TV reported.

Authorities are expected to provide more information at a news conference scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. local time Friday.

News of the apprehension comes a day after police finished a nearly day-long search using shovels and dogs in their search of a home belonging to a man they called a "person of interest" in the case. Investigators have also been searching for a mattress given away from the home last week.

They also took a vehicle from the home.

Lueck, 23, was last seen in the early morning hours of June 17 after she returned from a family funeral in her hometown of El Segundo, California, the Deseret News reported. In photos clipped from surveillance footage at Salt Lake City International Airport, Lueck could be seen near the baggage claim at the airport.

Police said last week that Lueck went missing after she took a Lyft from the airport to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The driver told police she arrived at the park around 3 a.m. and that another person in a car was waiting for her at the park, according to KSL-TV. That person has not been identified.

Authorities continue to investigate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.