Police conduct search warrant in relation to missing college student
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Mackenzie Lueck used a dating site and may not have been a member.
Utah police searched a house Thursday morning in connection with an investigation into a college student's disappearance, KSL reports.
Video footage from the station shows members of law enforcement digging holes in the backyard of a residence in the Fairpark neighborhood of Salt Lake City in their latest attempt to find answers related to Mackenzie Lueck's disappearance. Authorities purportedly served a search warrant at the home just before 10 p.m. on Wednesday.
According to KSL, the owner of the home occasionally rents out part of the house on Airbnb, although the station has refused to identify the person at this time. Police have not said whether the owner is a suspect.
"Given the nature of this case, we just don't want to make any mistakes," Salt Lake Police Assistant Chief Tim Doubt told reporters Wednesday night.
Lueck — a native of El Segundo, Calif., and student at the University of Utah — went missing on June 17 after she landed at the Salt Lake City airport. She had just returned from a trip to California, where she had attended her grandmother's funeral. The college student's parents said they last heard from her around 1 a.m., when she texted them to let them know that she had landed safely.
That same day, Lueck ordered a Lyft to Hatch Park, which is a 20-minute drive away from her residence near campus. After arriving at her destination, Lueck then hopped into another vehicle with an unidentified individual around 3 a.m., her Lyft driver said. The 23-year-old did not seem distressed at the time, he added.
In a statement, the ride-share company, which is helping police with their case, confirmed the driver's narrative, noting that Lueck's route to the park did not contain any "irregularities."
"We recognize how scary this must be for those who know and love Ms. Lueck," Lyft said.
At Tuesday's press conference, police said they were looking into Lueck's dating apps after they were tipped off about her interest in older men. Lueck was supposedly seeing multiple people casually before she went missing.
"In regards to her online activity, we are aware of this aspect and continue to look into all facets of her life for leads into her disappearance," Doubt said.
The next day, KSL reported that, at the time of Lueck's disappearance, the student was looking for "mutually beneficial" relationships. A screenshot of two Facebook comments she allegedly wrote reveals that she was more than willing to give advice to other members of a Facebook group on how to find "sugar daddies."
"Try Tinder and be blunt about it," one comment reads. "Mine says 'I want a SD/SB relationship with a real connection.' If don't know what a SD/SB is, tell them bluntly sugar daddy and sugar baby. But if they don’t know, they aren’t really worth your time. Set (your) age preference from 35+. You’ll have the most luck there. Private message me, if you have more questions! I have experience."
A photo posted on Lueck's Instagram account also links to a separate account that appears to confirm the notion that she may have lived dual lives — one as a college student and another as a "sugar baby."
On Thursday, Kimberly De La Cruz, a spokesperson for SeekingArrangement.com — a site that facilitates relationships between "sugar daddies" and "sugar babies" — further corroborated that fact to KSL, claiming that Lueck was once on the website.
Still, in light of newly released details surrounding Lueck's life, the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition was quick to point out that those who are following her story should not resort to victim-blaming.
"While we do not know the details of Mackenzie’s disappearance, we do know that victim blaming and shaming is inappropriate and unacceptable," the organization said in a statement. "Our focus should solely be on the safety and wellbeing of Mackenzie Lueck."