Ayoola Ajayi Appears In Court For First Time Since Being Charged With Killing MacKenzie Lueck

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Charging documents filed last week say Lueck died of blunt force trauma to the head, and her body was found with her arms bound behind her back with a zip tie and rope.

The 23-year-old woman went missing after she got off a flight from California on June 17, texted her parents that she had made it back to Salt Lake City, and then left the airport and was not heard from again. Her friends searched for days as police asked the community for tips.

Investigators have said that Lueck took a Lyft from the airport to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake in the early morning of June 17. She was picked up there by Ajayi, police said, and her phone stopped transmitting data at that point. A police search of Lueck’s phone showed he was the last person who communicated with her.

Police began an all-night search at Ajayi’s home in Salt Lake City’s Fairpark neighborhood on June 26 after serving a search warrant on Lueck’s phone and discovering he was the last person she had talked to.

In his backyard, investigators found a “fresh dig area” where neighbors said they saw Ajayi using gasoline to burn something a few days earlier. A forensic search of the dig site uncovered a charred human bone, other human remains, a cellphone and other items, according to charging documents. More charred items were found in a nearby alleyway. Police said human tissue found at the burn site had been matched by DNA to Lueck and items found matched her belongings.

Investigators found Lueck’s body on July 3 in Logan Canyon after examining Ajayi’s cellphone records, which showed him traveling near the canyon on June 25 — more than a week after Lueck went missing and days after her friends, family and police began searching for her. Police found a disturbed area of soil under trees in the canyon, according to Gill, and discovered Lueck’s charred body there in a wooded area off the main road. The canyon is about two hours north of Salt Lake City.

Ajayi’s court appearance was routine. He appeared via a video feed from the Salt Lake County jail, and a judge read the charges against the 31-year-old man: aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.

Also Monday, Salt Lake City police say they have found new evidence in Lueck’s case along the Jordan River Parkway, near 700 North.

~Salt Lake City Tribune.

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