Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said DNA testing shows that during a search of Ajayi’s residence, human tissue was found. Subsequent DNA testing showed it was a match for the missing woman, who disappeared June 17, according to a press conference.
“I will not be saying the killer’s name again,” Brown said, reported the Salt Lake Tribune, after announcing the suspect’s arrest.
Authorities will file murder and kidnapping charges in the death of 23-year-old Utah college student Mackenzie Lueck. The Salt Lake City police chief said Ayoola A. Ajayi, 31, will be charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and desecration of a body. https://t.co/pjTGVmo8sU
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 28, 2019
Lueck, a 23-year-old University of Utah student, arrived back in Salt Lake City from California after attending her grandmother’s funeral. She texted her parents when her flight landed before getting a Lyft to Hatch Park, which is about eight miles from her home.
She met a person at around 3 a.m. and left in another car, Brown added.
Three days later, her parents reported her missing.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) June 28, 2019
Phone records showed that Ajayi was the last person she communicated with before she went missing, said Brown, adding that Ajayi’s and Lueck’s phones were in Hatch Park within about one minute of one another.
It’s not clear how the two knew one another previously.
— New York Post (@nypost) June 28, 2019
Brown said that the woman’s remains and some of her possessions were found burned in the backyard of Ajayi’s residence.
“Mackenzie was met at Hatch Park by an individual in a vehicle,” Salt Lake City Police Assistant Chief Tim Doubt said earlier in the week, according to CNN. “The Lyft driver left Mackenzie at the park with that person and stated that Mackenzie did not appear to be in any type of distress.”
RIGHT NOW: A large police presence at 1000 S West Temple where one man has been arrested. Salt Lake City police saying they have taken one person into custody regarding the Mackenzie Lueck case. LIVE COVERAGE: https://t.co/hBAV91O7Cu pic.twitter.com/tdIlP9x1Fb
— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) June 28, 2019
Lyft also issued a statement to media outlets.
Police say neighbors of the charged man told them he was seen burning “something” on June 17 and 18. Forensic evidence of the burned area found several items consistent “personal items of Mackenzie Lueck” https://t.co/7wxmq1XFj5 pic.twitter.com/uotBASaZUK
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 28, 2019
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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.