SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A college student who went missing 11 days ago after last being seen in a Salt Lake City park at 3 a.m. was the victim of a kidnapping and homicide, authorities said Friday.
Salt Lake City police chief Mike Brown said Ayoola A. Ajayi will be charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and desecration of a body in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. He was arrested earlier Friday morning by a SWAT team.
Brown said he told the missing woman’s parents in Southern California about the arrest earlier Friday morning.
“This is one of the most difficult phone calls I’ve ever made,” Brown said. “We are devastated and heartbroken by this news.”
Police said Ajayi, 31, met Lueck at the park after taking a Lyft from the airport at 3 a.m. Brown said Ajayi connected with Lueck electronically for the first time on June 16, though the police chief declined to say how they got in touch.
Investigators are still looking for anyone suspected of helping him.
Lueck disappeared hours after that first communication. Police said she met someone at a park in the early morning hours of June 17 and left with that person willingly.
Police said Ajayi has denied communicating with her after June 16, but phone location data puts them both at the park where she was last seen within a minute of each other at 3 a.m. on June 17.
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.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Ajayi had an attorney. He has not returned previous messages from The Associated Press.
Lueck was a part-time student at the University of Utah in her senior year majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing. She has been a student since 2014 and has an off-campus apartment.
She is from El Segundo in the Los Angeles area and flew to California for a funeral before returning to Salt Lake City, police said. Her family reported her missing on June 20 and became more concerned after she missed a planned flight back to Los Angeles last weekend.
Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press.
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