Body of missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck been found in a canyon almost three weeks after she disappeared
Cops recovered the 23-year-old’s body from Logan Canyon, 85 miles north of Salt Lake City, on Wednesday
Discovery a week after authorities arrested 31-year-old Army vet Ayoola A. Ajayi, 31, on suspicion of her murder over Lueck’s disappearance
Lueck disappeared on June 17 after she returned from a trip home to El Segundo, California for her grandmother’s funeral
Investigators earlier found ‘female human tissue’ matching Lueck’s DNA in the backyard of IT worker Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home
Charred items, believed to have been Lueck’s personal belongings, also found on the property
Ajayi, the last person to have seen Lueck, last week was held on suspicion of aggravated murder, kidnapping over Lueck’s disappearance
Police revealed they recovered the 23-year-old’s body from Logan Canyon, 85 miles north of Salt Lake City, on Wednesday.
It comes after authorities arrested 31-year-old Ayoola A. Ajayi last week over Lueck’s disappearance.
Investigators had earlier found ‘female human tissue’ that matched Lueck’s DNA in the backyard of Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home.
They also found charred items that are believed to have been Lueck’s personal belongings.
Lueck disappeared on June 17 after she returned from a trip to her hometown of El Segundo, California for her grandmother’s funeral.
Police said she took a Lyft from the airport to a park north of Salt Lake City, where she met someone in the early hours of the morning.
She was reported missing three days later.
A widespread search for her resulted with authorities arresting the man they say was the last person to communicate with her: Ajayi. They say his phone location data put him in the same park at the same time Lueck was last seen, police said.
Police say the last person she communicated with was Ajayi who was also in the park at the time.
He is being held on suspicion of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other crimes.
She arrived at Hatch Park, where someone in a vehicle was there waiting for her, according to the Lyft driver.
Friends had told investigators they were unsure why she went to that park because she does not live in that area.
After being last seen by the Lyft driver, Lueck did not show up for any of her exams or classes. On June 20, three days after she disappeared, her family reported her missing. She had a return ticket back to Los Angeles International Airport scheduled for Sunday, June 23. However, she never showed up for that flight.
Lueck who records show identified as a ‘sugar Baby’, online, was also absent on social media.
Investigators last week determined Ajayi was the individual she met, and on June 26 Salt Lake City police served a search warrant at the suspect’s home.
Neighbors reported to police observing Ajayi burning something in his backyard using gasoline on June 17 and June 18.
After investigators located and excavated the burn area, they found charred personal items belonging to Lueck, as well as human remains which later tests confirmed matched her DNA.
Ajayi admitted to cops he’d been texting with Lueck on the night before her disappearance, but denied having ever meeting with the missing woman.
“He admitted to having text conversations to Mackenzie on June 16 at approximately 6 p.m., but nothing after that time,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said at a media briefing last week.
“He denied any personal contact with Mackenzie, or meeting with her at any time”.
“Investigations of both the arrested persons and Mackenzie’s phone records show the location of their phones to be at Hatch Park within less than a minute of each other, Chief Brown said.
“This was the same time as Mackenzie’s phone stopped receiving any data or location services on June 17 at approximately 3 a.m.”