(SALT LAKE CITY) — University of Utah students will mourn their slain classmate, Mackenzie Lueck, at a vigil on campus Monday night.
Lueck, 23, had been missing in the Salt Lake City area for nearly two weeks before her suspected killer was arrested on Friday.
Ayoola Ajayi, 31, was booked on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body, police said.
Charred tissue has been recovered that contains DNA consistent with samples found on Lueck’s belongings, police said.
Giving Lueck’s father the news was “one of the most difficult phone calls I’ve ever made,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said Friday.
The college senior was last seen in the early hours of June 17. She landed at Salt Lake City International Airport around 2 a.m. and then took a Lyft from the airport to Hatch Park in north Salt Lake City, police said.
The Lyft driver told police that Lueck met an individual in the park and did not appear to be in distress, police said. She was never seen again.
Authorities later determined Lueck’s last communication was with Ajayi, said police. Phone records show that Lueck and Ajayi were both at Hatch Park within less than one minute of each other, according to authorities.
During a search of Ajayi’s home, his neighbors told police they saw him using gasoline to burn something in his backyard on June 17 and 18, police said.
“Several charred items consistent with personal items of Mackenzie Lueck” were found in his yard, according to police.
Ajayi has not yet appeared in court.
Lueck, a kinesiology major, was planning to graduate next year, according to university officials.
“The death of Mackenzie Lueck is devastating news,” university President Ruth Watkins said in a statement on Friday. “On behalf of the university, I express our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and classmates of Mackenzie during this very difficult time.”
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