The estranged wife of the man arrested for allegedly murdering University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck claimed he terrorized her during their marriage — slashing her with a butcher’s knife and threatening to kill her.
Mother of four Tenisha Jenkins Ajayi, 35, is still legally married to murder suspect Ayoola Ajayi, 31, but she she went into hiding four years ago to escape his violent abuse, she said.
Ajayi has been accused in the death of missing University of Utah sorority sister Mackenzie Lueck, who was confirmed as dead on Friday and authorities in Utah arrested the former U.S. Army information technology specialist same day for allegedly killing her and burning her body, officials in Utah said.
Utah college student Mackenzie Lueck [left], was found in a Salt Lake City property, suspect Ayoola Ajayi [right] has been charged with aggravated murder, in her death
Ayoola Ajayi, 31, was arrested on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, desecration of a body and obstruction of justice, police said at a Friday press conference.
Describing the frightening personality of her estranged husband, Tenisha said she wants to testify in court about how “aggressive and controlling” he is, saying, “If he took an innocent child, he needs to spend his life in jail.”
“This could have happened to me. This could have happened to my child,” Tenisha said of her husband, who is accused of kidnapping and killing 23-year-old Lueck before burying her burned body in Salt Lake City.
She said her marriage crumbled after her husband, a former US Army information technology specialist, insisted on moving to Utah, while she was adamant on staying in Dallas, where her children felt at home.
“He started to get more and more aggressive. Eventually he said he would kill me if I didn’t go to Utah,” she insisted.
Utah college student Mackenzie Lueck’s last text communications were with Ayoola Ajayi, who has been charged in her murder officials said.
Tenisha Ajayi said things turned violent the last time she saw her husband, when he tried to grab her at a friend’s house, and she cut her arm when she jumped through a window to try to escape him: “He chased me into the street with a knife and cut me in the hand,” she said.
Tenisha said things turned violent the last time they saw each other, when he tried to grab her at a friend’s house, and she cut her arm when she jumped through a window to try to escape him.
“He chased me into the street with a knife and cut me in the hand,” she said, showing a scar on her arm.
Br She moved to hide from him and tried to get him to sign divorce papers, but he refused, instead repeatedly threatening to kidnap her, she claimed.
“I was really frightened. He kept saying he was going to kill me,” she said.
Despite his threats, Tenisha, who admitted never even consummating the marriage because she was too scared of Ayoola, was stunned that he’s been charged with such a serious crime.
“I knew he was dangerous, but not this dangerous,” she said, predicting he must have “lost his mind” on drugs.
“I was in love with this person … I’m scared, I’m hurt, I don’t feel I will ever be able to trust another man again,” she sail
Salt Lake City police announced last week that Ayoola had been arrested on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, desecration of a body and obstruction of justice.
Lueck, who was from El Segundo, California, disappeared after arriving at the Salt Lake City airport on June 17 from a trip home for her grandmother’s funeral.
Announcing the arrest Friday, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said: “The arrested person’s neighbors informed detectives that they observed him burning something in his backyard with gasoline on the dates of June 18 and June 19,” Chief Brown said. Adding
“The search warrant resulted in the findings of a fresh dig area on his property which is the same area that the arrested individual was reported burning something.”
“A forensic excavation of the burn area was conducted, which resulted in the finding of several charred items that were consistent with personal items of Mackenzie Lueck,” he added.
“Other charred material was located which has now forensically been determined to be female human tissue. A DNA profile of that human tissue was obtained during forensic testing by the Utah state lab. That DNA profile was compared and is consistent with the DNA profile obtained through further forensic testing of personal items of Mackenzie Lueck.”
Lueck was last seen early on the morning of June 17 when she flew into Salt Lake City International Airport after attending a family funeral at home in California. She boarded a Lyft cab service. The driver told investigators he dropped off the college student at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake about 3 a.m. where another person in a car was waiting for her,”all communication” from Lueck’s phone ceased after that – cops
Lueck was last seen early on the morning of June 17 when she flew into Salt Lake City International Airport after attending a family funeral in her hometown of El Segundo, California. Surveillance video at the airport recorded Lueck making her way to baggage claim, and then getting into a Lyft vehicle.
The Lyft driver told police he dropped off Lueck at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake about 3 a.m. where another person in a car was waiting for her. That was when “all communication” from Lueck’s phone stopped, the chief said.
On Friday, Brown said cellphone data collected from both Lueck’s and Ajayi’s phones put them at Hatch Park at the same time early that morning.
Lueck’s last text communications were with Ajayi, officials said.
Investigators confirmed that Lueck and Ajayi had communicated with each other through texting on June 16 about 6 p.m. Brown did not know how long the two had been acquainted, when they first met or how the two met each other.
Cellphone data and social media apps became a huge part in the investigation as well as forensics.
Brown praised his detectives on Friday for working nonstop since Lueck was first reported missing on June 20, as well as the partnerships his department has with the FBI and others in bringing a quick resolution to the case.
“This was outstanding detective work, and this was cutting-edge investigation. When we talk about the digital footprint, through the work that we’ve done, and our federal partners, and then our state partners with the DNA, this is a cutting-edge investigation and this is what has led us to this arrest,” Brown said.
The SWAT team had Ajayi exit an apt at gunpoint and walk toward waiting officers with his hands on his head on Friday
In 2014, officers investigated a rape allegation against Ajayi. However, the woman “did not wish to pursue charges in this matter” and no charges were filed
Ajayi denied seeing Lueck on June 17 and claimed he didn’t know what she looked like, even though Brown said detectives found he had Lueck’s dating profile and pictures of her on his phone.
“Ayoola denied any personal contact with Mackenzie or meeting with her at any time,” a police affidavit states.
Outside of a few traffic tickets, Ajayi has no criminal history in Utah. He at one time lived in an apartment across the street from Hatch Park, where Lueck was last seen. Ajayi and his two roommates were evicted from the North Salt Lake apartment in 2016 for failing to pay rent, according to court records.
Ajayi sporadically attended Utah State University, taking classes at times during 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016, when he left after the fall semester, according to university officials. He never had a declared major or earned a degree.
Friday afternoon, the North Park Police Department issued a statement that Ajayi lived in North Logan from 2013-2015. In 2014, officers investigated a rape allegation against Ajayi, the department stated. However, the woman “did not wish to pursue charges in this matter” and no charges were filed, according to the statement.
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