The body of MacKenzie Lueck was found nearly 80 miles north of where she was last seen, and the case against her suspected killer was given to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, authorities said on Friday, July 5.
“Through tireless detective work and investigation, we’ve recovered the body of MacKenzie and were able to forensically confirm it was her,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said.
Authorities announced the body of Lueck, a 23-year-old University of Utah student from El Segundo, had been found in Logan Canyon during a Friday press conference at the Salt Lake City Police Department’s headquarters.
A more specific location and what led investigators there were not disclosed.
Logan Canyon sits just east of Utah State University, where Lueck’s suspected killer, 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi, attended classes at various times from 2009 to 2016.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said a collaborative investigation led to the discovery of Lueck’s body on Wednesday, July 3.
He also said his office received the case from the Police Department and will begin screening the charges against Ajayi early next week.
The Police Department continues with its investigation. Chief Brown said his detectives have continued to work around the clock on the case.
“Over the last two weeks, they’ve dropped their personal lives and worked thousands of hours to get to this point,” he said.
Brown said he again spoke with Lueck’s family in what he described as another devastating call. He had previously called before the arrest of the suspect was made.
Lueck was last seen about 3 a.m. June 17, an hour after she landed at Salt Lake City International Airport following a visit to Los Angeles for her grandmother’s funeral.
She ordered a Lyft to Hatch Park, where she entered another vehicle at about 3 a.m.
Ajayi was arrested June 28 after authorities served a search warrant on his Salt Lake City home and found charred belongings and human tissue consistent with Lueck’s DNA, Brown said at a press conference last week.
Investigators learned that Lueck’s and the suspect’s cellphones show they had been at Hatch Park within a minute of each other at about 3 a.m. on June 17, police said.
Neighbors told police as they searched on June 26 that they had noticed Ajayi burning items using gasoline on June 17 and 18, Brown said, adding investigators searched a “fresh dig area” in his backyard and found the items.
Ajayi, in an interview with police, admitted he and Lueck communicated the night before she disappeared, authorities said. But details on any relationship between the two have not been disclosed.
Ajayi was being held in jail on no bail. A motion to extend the hold was filed by Gill earlier this week and was granted by Utah’s Third District Court, allowing authorities more time to file charges.