Body of missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck found

Ayoola Ajayi, 31, is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of body in connection with Lueck's disappearance and slaying.
Image: Mackenzie Lueck
Mackenzie Lueck had been missing since June 17, 2019, after landing at the Salt Lake City International Airport. She left the airport in a ride-share vehicle and was dropped off at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake.Salt Lake City Police Dept

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By David K. Li

The body of slain University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck has been found, authorities said Friday.

Lueck's remains were discovered in Logan Canyon in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday, and Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown said he personally called Lueck's parents Friday to update them.

The 23-year-old student, a Southern California native, was last seen June 17.

"We recovered the body on Wednesday and were able to confirm it was her," Brown said. "I spoke with Mackenzie's family this morning, another devastating call. Despite their grief, we hope this will help them find some closure and justice for Mackenzie."

Ayoola Ajayi, 31, is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of body, in connection with the disappearance and slaying of Lueck, a native of El Segundo, California, officials said.

Ajayi lives in the Fairpark neighborhood of Salt Lake City, more than 80 miles and a two-plus hour drive from Logan Canyon, officials said.

Salt Lake City police take Ayoola Ajayi into custody in connection with missing University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck June 28, 2019.Kristin Murphy / The Deseret News via AP

The announcement that Lueck's body was found comes a week after police said that investigators had dug up Ajayi's backyard, where neighbors said he had burned something with gasoline around June 17 or 18. Police said they found "charred material" that was "forensically determined to be female human tissue.”

The tissue was “consistent with a DNA profile obtained through further forensic testing of personal items of Mackenzie Lueck,” Brown said last week.

Police have still not revealed how Ajayi and Lueck might have known each other.

Lueck arrived back in Salt Lake City after attending a family funeral in Southern California, got into a Lyft from the airport and was dropped off in a park at 3 a.m. June 17, police said.

She met someone in a parked car, according to the Lyft driver, who also told police that Lueck did not appear to be in any distress as she was dropped off. That was the last time she was seen alive.

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The police chief, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill all made statements to reporters Friday but declined to take questions.

"The police department has been diligent in following up on every little lead in this case," Biskupski said.

Logan, where Lueck's body was found, is home to Utah State University, which Ajayi once attended.

The university last week confirmed that he had been a student there on three separate occasions beginning in the fall of 2009 and including spring 2015 prior to his leaving the school in fall 2016. He did not earn a degree, the university said.