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Man charged in death of Utah college student Mackenzie Lueck

Man charged in death of college student

A man was arrested Friday in the death of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck. A SWAT team arrested 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi on suspicion of murder and kidnapping after a search of his home revealed a fresh dig on his property, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown announced.

Ajayi was being held without bail. The Associated Press reports online court records show a judge ruled Friday afternoon that Ajayi is a danger to the community and would be a threat to flee if released on bail. 

Neighbors reported seeing smoke the day after Lueck disappeared. Investigators revealed a grizzly discovery.

"Excavation of the burned area was conducted, which resulted in the finding of several charred items, that were consistent with personal items of Mackenzie Lueck," Brown said. "Other charred material was located, which has now been determined to be female human tissue."

Lueck, 23, landed at the Salt Lake City airport on June 17. She took a ride-share from there to a park about 11 miles away around 3 a.m. Police said she then got into another car and hadn't been heard from since.

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Ayoola Ajayi SALT LAKE COUNTY JAIL

Through social media and phone records, authorities determined that Lueck communicated with Ajayi the day before her disappearance. Police said they were also at the park at the same time.

Police said Ajayi denied having ever met Lueck and said he didn't know what she looked like.

It's unclear how Lueck and Ajayi knew each other, and police have not determined a motive.  

Police said they've received more than 200 tips related to the case and the search warrant at the home was one of several they've served. They also towed a car from the property, saying there were items inside they wanted to examine.

"The death of Mackenzie Lueck is devastating news," University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins said in a statement. "On behalf of the university, I express our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and classmates of Mackenzie during this very difficult time."

Jonathan Vigliotti and April Siese contributed to this report.

 

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