Two weeks after a University of Utah student vanished, officials announced that she is dead, and that a man has been taken into custody in connection with her death.
Officials announced at a news conference held Friday morning that Mackenzie Lueck, 23, is dead and that a man they announced they arrested earlier in the morning will be charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice, desecration of a body and homicide.
“The man charged with these horrific and tragic crimes is the person of interest,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said before identifying that person as 31-year-old Ayoola A. Ajayi. Brown added that he would not be saying Ajayi's name again.
Local outlets said that he was arrested by a SWAT team.
Lueck arrived at the Salt Lake City International Airport around 1:35 a.m. Monday, June 17, after attending her grandmother’s funeral. She then requested a Lyft driver take her to Hatch Park in north Salt Lake City where she met another individual.
Brown said Ajayi has admitted to exchanging texts with her a day before she vanished but denied knowing what she looked like despite having photos of her on her phone. He said that phone data put them both at the park together.
Ajayi denied meeting her, according to Brown.
Salt Lake City Police first announced the break in the case hours after they announced they were looking for a mattress in connection with the case and also hours after police announced they had a “person of interest” in the case after searching a Salt Lake City home on Wednesday.
Police noted a burn pile in the backyard of the home. Brown said at the press conference investigators found female human tissue in that burn pile and that the DNA profile appears to match the DNA profile of items belonging to Lueck.
One also told Fox News in an interview that “many women” were often seen coming in and out of the home.
“There were always so many women coming in and out at all hours of the night,” the unidentified neighbor said.
Brown said he is looking into whether or not Ajayi allegedly acted alone, or if he had help.
It’s not immediately clear if Ajayi had an attorney.
A statement from the Lueck family, read by the uncle of Lueck at the presser, statined that they would like to express their gratitude to the police, community and people around the nation who have supported the investigation.
He asked that people respect the family's request for privacy.
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