Police: 1 person in custody in missing Utah student case

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A college student who went missing 11 days ago after last being seen in a Salt Lake City park at 3 in the morning was the victim of a kidnapping and homicide, authorities said Friday.

Salt Lake City police chief Mike Brown said Ayoola A. Ajayi will be charged with aggravated murder, kidnaping and desecration of a body in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. He was arrested earlier Friday morning by a SWAT team.

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,"

Police say Ajayi, 31, met Lueck at the park after taking a Lyft from the airport at 3 a.m. It was not immediately clear how or whether the two had known each other previously.

Brown says burned evidence, including Lueck's things and her remains, was found at his home. The home was searched on Wednesday and Thursday and Ajayi was the man previously identified as a person of interest.

It wasn't immediately clear if Ajayi had an attorney. He has not returned previous messages from The Associated Press.

Lueck was a part-time student at the University of Utah in her senior year majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing. She has been a student since 2014 and has an off-campus apartment.

She is from El Segundo in the Los Angeles area and flew to California for a funeral before returning to Salt Lake City, police said. Her family reported her missing on June 20 and became more concerned after she missed a planned flight back to Los Angeles last weekend.

 

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