Salt Lake City police arrested and charged a man with aggravated murder in the “tragic and horrific” killing of missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, authorities announced Friday.
Police had been searching for the 23-year-old Utah student for 11 days before the announcement.
The man, Ayoola Ajayi, was arrested on Friday and now faces four charges consisting of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.
His neighbors had informed detectives they noticed Ajayi burning something with fuel on June 17 and 18, the two days immediately following Lueck’s disappearance, police said.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown told reporters: “After an exhaustive week of investigation, we are filing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body in the homicide of Mackenzie Lueck.”
Lueck, 23, vanished around 3 a.m. on June 17 after meeting an unidentified person near a park in Salt Lake City after being dropped off by a Lyft driver, according to police. Brown said Ayaji was the last person Lueck was communicating with before her disappearance and that phone records indicated they were both in the area around 3 a.m.
— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) June 25, 2019
Brown said parents of Lueck were “devastated and heartbroken” when they were informed about her daughter’s death.
“Salt Lake City is a tight-knit, caring, family-oriented community and I hope we can all work together to prevent this from ever happening again,” he said.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of student Mackenzie Lueck. Our campus community mourns her tragic loss. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family and all those who knew her,” the University of Utah said in a statement on Friday.