Ayoola Ajayi, a 31-year-old Nigerian-born writer, and IT specialist has been charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of 23-year-old MacKenzie Lueck’s body.
MacKenzie Lueck was last seen on June 17, 2019.
Cell phones and social media were at the heart of the investigation that led to Ayoola Ajayi.
Investigators tracking her cell phone discovered that 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck and Ayoola Ajayi were both in the park where she was last seen on June 17 within a minute of one another.
Police find her pictures on his phone
After Lueck disappeared, the suspect originally denied knowing what she looked like, Brown said. But several pictures of her were found on his phone, and the “digital footprint” has continued even after the arrest, police said.
That was around the time Lueck’s phone stopped receiving data or location services, police said.
Ajayi’s booking record in the jail says he was born in Nigeria and was also called “Joy” and “AJ.” His full name is Ayoola Adisa Ajayi.
Lueck disappeared early on June 17, not long after taking a flight from Los Angeles that landed in Salt Lake City. Lueck went to LA to go to her grandmother’s funeral. Lueck could be seen on Salt Lake City airport surveillance camera footage with luggage. Lueck took a Lyft from the airport to a park around 3 a.m., where she reportedly got into another car.
Salt Lake City police made the announcement on Friday afternoon. Ajayi was the man previously identified only as a person of interest in this case.
Ajayi’s LinkedIn identified him as a Utah State University grad, an IT specialist in the U.S. Army from 2014-2016, and a senior technical support analyst at Dell.
Later reports clarified Ajayi’s Army history as a six-month stint in the Utah Army National Guard. A spokesman told KSL Ajayi was not eligible for deployment because he didn’t complete basic training:
Ajayi was discharged from the Utah Army National Guard in June 2015 after six months of service, according to Utah National Guard Public Affairs Officer D.J. Gibb.
Ajayi was a member of the 214th Forward Support Company in Tooele, according to Gibb. He did not go through basic training and did not receive any certificates or awards, Gibb said. Therefore, he was not eligible to deploy with the Army National Guard, he said.
Ajayi did not meet “medical procurement standards” and was discharged as a result, Gibb said.
In his modelling profile website, the murder suspect wrote;
“I’ made this page to help me get in touch with some great photographers, agencies, or clients looking for classy and professional modeling.
My goals are to be one of the best in this business and will love to meet any organization with the same goals. I love trying out new ideas, so if there are any new ideas and suggestions photographer think might work, I am open to try them out or talk about it.” – Ayoola Ajayi
Below is some of my quick work out before audition.
I am tall, buffed, Funny. I am a victim, Romantic, Violent and character actor. If I am to describe myself using one or two of the celebrities; I will choose Samuel L Jackson and Dennis Haysbert.
Sakari Moore told the told the Salt Lake Tribune he met Ajayi in South Carolina during basic training in the Army, and even roomed with him for a time in the Utah residence. He said “A.J.” was a “bright guy,” but also a guy who was concerned about appearances and prone to losing his temper.
“He’s definitely a guy that likes to maintain an appearance,” Moore “A.J. was a very bright guy, he knew his material. This is why it comes as a bit of a shock. To maintain his rapport of being well-read, with computers, with clients, and then to just flip a switch — I can’t really imagine it.”
Moore said Ajayi displayed “some anger issues” when he roomed with him, adding that this “polarity” in Ajayi’s emotions made him nervous.
“He doesn’t like to be told anything other than his way,” Moore said. “He snaps or loses his temper, [then] he comes back to his sweet self.”
“I was nervous because the polarity in his emotions [was] just switching very quickly,” Moore continued, explaining why he moved out.
There is a self-published book for sale on Amazon called “Forge Identity.” The author, Ayoola Ajayi, says in his bio: “Ayoola Ajayi was born and raised in Africa. He has been a salesman, an entrepreneur, and a writer. He has survived a tyrannical dictatorship, escaped a real-life crime, traveled internationally, excelled professionally in several industries, and is currently curating a multi-platform advertising campaign for his debut novel, Forge Identity, a sample of which can be found on Kindle, Amazon, Facebook, and any current social media. He lives in salt lake.”
Police obtained a search warrant and spent many hours at Ajayi’s home. According to CBS News, ammunition was found in the house during the search. Other unspecified items were also removed.
We are looking to find this mattress as well as a box spring in relation to this case. These items were possibly given away from 547 N. 1000 W. If you picked up these items please contact us at 801-799-3000 #MackenzieLueck #missingperson pic.twitter.com/Lqqby7iAxJ— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) June 27, 2019
His home searched at 547 N. 1000 West is where police booked into evidence 27 boxes of AR-15 223 ammunition and a pitchfork, along with bags of other items from the house in question early Thursday morning.
Authorities were spotted with shovels. Police are also reportedly looking for a mattress and box spring that was given away last week. The CBS report cited property documents that said Ajayi is 31, divorced and doesn’t have a criminal record in the state of Utah.
The home police searched was only 11 miles from the park where Lueck was dropped off by the Lyft driver.
A neighbor said the homeowner uses part of the residence to rent out on Airbnb, noting that “There are people coming and going most of the time.” As for the homeowner? A neighbor said he rarely speaks to anyone. Neighbors claimed they also observed him burning something in his backyard.
Police say neighbors of the charged man told them he was seen burning "something" on June 17 and 18. Forensic evidence of the burned area found several items consistent "personal items of Mackenzie Lueck" https://t.co/7wxmq1XFj5 pic.twitter.com/uotBASaZUK— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 28, 2019
Authorities said Friday that they found evidence that Lueck’s body was burned, namely charred human tissue.
.@slcpd Police say this is the yard they found burned female remains. Neighbors reported smelling burning flesh around June 18th according to investigators. Ayoola Ajayi is in custody.@abc4utah pic.twitter.com/lUlpQv56i9— Jason Nguyen (@FollowWIN) June 28, 2019
Lueck’s uncle made a brief statement on behalf of the grieving family, thanking the police for their efforts. He also asked that the public respect the privacy of the victim’s family.
In a statement from Mackenzie Lueck's family, they express "gratitude for the effort put forth by the Salt Lake City police department and all partnering agencies that assisted." https://t.co/7wxmq1XFj5 pic.twitter.com/YfOLZJH9mi— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 28, 2019