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Suspect charged with aggravated murder in Mackenzie Lueck case, police say

Posted at 2:07 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 14:22:38-04

[Breaking news update at 2:04 p.m. ET]

Police have filed charges of aggravated murder against a man suspected of killing missing Utah college student Mackenzie Lueck, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a Friday news conference.

The suspect, identified by Brown as Ayoola Ajayi, also faces charges of aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.

[Previous story, published at 1:33 p.m. ET]

One person has been taken into police custody in connection with the disappearance of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, the Salt Lake City Police Department said Friday.

Police did not identify the person in question but said they would provide an update at 11:30 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET).

The news comes after police executed a search warrant at home in the Fairpark neighborhood, where detectives found “multiple items of evidence,” according to Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown.

Detectives have spoken with the homeowner, Brown said Thursday in a news conference. The owner of the home was not in police custody at the time.

A person who lives in the home recently lit a fire in his yard, neighbor Teresa Draheim said, adding that she smelled gasoline and something burning.

Lueck has not been since the early morning hours of June 17, when she was dropped by a Lyft driver at a park, where, according to police, she met someone.

She hasn’t been heard from since then.

Investigators are also looking for a mattress and box spring that were given away last week from the Fairpark home, Brown said. Whoever took the items should contact the Salt Lake City Police Department, he said.

Instagram account active after Lueck vanished

Authorities have not been able to track Lueck through her phone, which they believe has not been on since June 17.

But Lueck’s Instagram account has been active since she disappeared. An account bearing the name “Kenzie Lueck” followed another Instagram user on or about Wednesday, CNN verified. That user has not replied to CNN’s request for comment.

It’s possible another individual accessed Lueck’s account and is responsible for the activity.

The account belongs to Lueck, her sorority sister Kennedy Stoner confirmed. Lueck’s friends have shared information regarding the account’s activity with Salt Lake City police, Stoner said.

Investigators have been looking into the account’s activity, along with the rest of the case’s “digital footprint,” Brown confirmed Thursday.

“This is a digital forensic investigation,” he said. “This is covering computers, cell phones, IP addresses, URLs, texting apps.”

Lueck’s disappearance

The 23-year-old University of Utah student’s disappearance is surrounded by mystery, and yet police say that day she did not seem troubled.

Lueck flew in to Salt Lake City International Airport from a family funeral in California and texted her parents at 1 a.m. when she landed. Airport surveillance footage shows her rolling her luggage past a baggage carousel in the early morning hours.

She then took a Lyft to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake City, where she was last seen.

“Mackenzie was met at Hatch Park by an individual in a vehicle,” Salt Lake City Police Assistant Chief Tim Doubt told reporters Monday. “The Lyft driver left Mackenzie at the park with that person and stated that Mackenzie did not appear to be in any type of distress.”

Detectives have been canvassing the area around the park and looking for video surveillance.

The rideshare company confirmed the route Lueck took and the app said that it showed no irregularities.

“We recognize how scary this must be for those who know and love Ms. Lueck,” Lyft said. “The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation.”

Friends and family worry

Lueck’s family and friends have not heard from her since the day she landed, police said. And they say it is unusual.

Lueck was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on June 23 but missed the flight.

Friend and sorority sister Ashley Fine told CNN affiliate KSL that Lueck also has missed exams.

“She’s extremely dedicated. She would never miss her midterms or anything like that,” Fine told the Salt Lake City TV station. “She hasn’t been home. She didn’t show up to work, or anything.”

Brown spoke to her father and said he could “feel the heartache and the pain and the suffering in his voice as we spoke.”

“And my commitment to Greg was we would do everything within our power, the Salt Lake City Police Department, to bring Mackenzie home,” Brown said. “And that is our charge and that we are committed to do.”