SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake City police have arrested a man for aggravated murder in the killing of missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, officials announced Friday.
The suspect has been identified as Ayoola Ajayi, reported Fox News. He was taken into custody Friday morning after a forensic investigation uncovered charred female human tissue and items belonging to the missing student in the backyard of his home, police said. The arrest came after investigators searched his property earlier this week. Police say neighbors informed detectives that they saw Ajayi burning something with the help of gasoline around the night of June 17, when Lueck last was seen.
“After an exhaustive week of investigation, we are filing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body in the homicide of Mackenzie Lueck,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown told reporters.
“I will not be saying the killer’s name again,” he added.
Lueck, 23, disappeared after meeting an unknown individual around 3 a.m. on June 17 near a park in Salt Lake City after being dropped off by a Lyft driver, according to the Fox report.
Her uncle, reading a statement on behalf of her family Friday, said they would like to “express their gratitude” to all the law enforcement agencies that assisted in the investigation. Moreover, he said her family is “grateful” of those who supported it.
Police searched Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home this week and named him as a person of interest before arresting him Friday. During their investigative search, they dug up holes in the home’s backyard and removed items from the property for further forensic analysis.
Brown said they searched the home after neighbors told police they saw the suspect burning a fire in the backyard. He said investigators discovered a fresh dig area in the yard as well as charred personal items belonging to Lueck, Fox reported.
Furthermore, the suspect recently expressed a desire to build a secret, soundproofed room with hooks on its walls in the basement of his home, a contractor revealed to Fox News on Friday.
Brian Wolf, who owns a home repair business in Utah, said Ajayi reached out to him in April and asked him to give him an estimate for the potential renovation project.
“He slowly added on other requests, like building a secret door and adding hooks to the wall,” Wolf told Fox News, adding that he ultimately turned down the job offer because he was “weirded out” by the requests.
A Facebook profile, which reportedly belongs to Ayoola Ajayi, contains images of him in a U.S. Army uniform. He appears to have set up a profile on a website where aspiring models seek jobs.
“I am tall, buffed, Funny. I am a victim, Romantic, Violent and character actor,” the profile reads. The page contains several images of himself posing shirtless.
Ajayi also appears to have published an e-book last year titled “Forge Identity,” about a teenager who has witnessed violent murders and then has to decide whether “he will join the ranks of a criminal mastermind, or fight to escape the tyranny that has surrounded his young life.”
An author biography on an Amazon page where the book is listed claims Ajayi was born and raised in Africa, “survived a tyrannical dictatorship, escaped a real-life crime, traveled internationally” and “excelled professionally in several industries.”
On an Airbnb profile purportedly belonging to him—which has since been taken off the website—Ajayi advertised two “beautiful and affordable basement rooms in the heart of [Salt Lake City] with shared common area” for $27 and $30 a night, at the house police searched this week.