Authorities in Utah revealed on Wednesday how they believe college student Mackenzie Lueck, 23, died. An autopsy revealed she sustained blunt force trauma to the left side of her head that proved fatal, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a press conference.
Investigators were somewhat reserved with details last month when they said they discovered human tissue in the backyard of defendant Ayoola Ajayi, 31. They said it was consistent with Lueck’s DNA profile, but only spoke generally on how they linked the Ajayi to the crime. Authorities were even more tight-lipped when revealing Friday that they found Lueck’s body in Logan Canyon.
The press conference on Wednesday gave a more detailed narrative on how law enforcement got involved, how they linked Ajayi to the death, and the state of Lueck’s body. The victim’s father called authorities June 20, saying he recently didn’t hear anything from his daughter, said Gill.
As previously announced, investigators determined Lueck exchanged texts with Ajayi in the early morning of June 17. Lueck took a Lyft from Salt Lake City International Airport to Hatch Park; her last text was at 2:58 a.m., and the Lyft driver left her at the park at 2:59 a.m., Gill said. Her phone was turned off at this time. Ajayi’s cell phone also placed him at the location, Gill said.
Investigators discovered a freshly dug site in the yard when they executed a search warrant on June 26, said Gill. They located a human bone, scalp with hair, muscular tissue, and a cell phone. They also found charred black fabric in a nearby alleyway.
During the investigation, a neighbor told cops there was a “horrible smell” coming from Ajayi’s backyard. He claimed to see the defendant pouring gasoline on a fire in a pit.
The suspect’s cell phone put him at Logan Canyon on June 19, said Gill. Authorities searched the area, and found disturbed soil. That’s where they found Lueck’s charred body, said the DA. Her hands had been bound with zip ties. She was missing part of her scalp and had a 5-centimeter hole in her head.
The autopsy determined that Lueck had sustained blunt force trauma to the left side of her head. This would’ve caused fatal hemorrhaging.
Gill declined to reveal the alleged motive in the death. He reiterated that Lueck’s family desired privacy at this time.
Ajayi is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and desecration of a human body. A Salt Lake County District Court clerk told Law&Crime that the defendant has no attorney of record.
Those who previously knew Ajayi alleged disturbing details about his past. Estranged wife Tenisha Ajayi described him as a controlling and threatening.
“I just stopped talking to him because I was fearing for my life,” she told KUTV. “He didn’t want me to do nothing. He didn’t want me to talk to nobody or nothing.”
She said she stopped communicating with him after he threatened to have a person kidnap and murder her.
A former roommate said Ayoola Ajayi had a bad temper.
Workers hired to labor at the defendant’s home reported strange conditions. In an oft-discussed detail, a contractor said Ajayi once tried to hire him to make a soundproof room featuring a fingerprint scanner for entry, and hooks on the wall. A cleaner separately said that she noticed a lot of cameras at his home, especially in the master bedroom.
[Image via Salt Lake County]