A Nigerian tech worker identifed as Ayoola Ajayi has been charged with murder and kidnapping in the death of an Utah college student whose body was found in a wooded area with her arms bound behind her.
According to prosecutors, Mr Ajayi, 31, was the last person Mackenzie Lueck was in contact with on June 17 before she disappeared.
District Attorney Sim Gill said Lueck’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and her body was found with her arms bound behind her, however, a motive or possible connection between Lueck and Ajayi was not established.
The 23-year-old University of Utah student’s arms were bound behind her back and she had a hole in her head when investigators found her charred remains.
Ayoola, who is a Salt Lake City resident, was formally charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and desecration of a body, the District Attorney said, adding that he is expected to appear in court again on Monday, according to the New York Post.
Lueck, a kinesiology major, disappeared on June 17 after returning from her grandmother’s funeral and taking a Lyft ride from the airport to a local park in the early morning hours. She was seen by her driver getting into another vehicle. That was the last time she was seen in public.
Gill said that cell phone data place Lueck and Ajayi at the same park at the same time; Lueck’s phone was turned off shortly afterward, and it was not turned back on again.
Ajayi was arrested in connection to Lueck’s disappearance on June 28, two weeks after she first went missing. Investigators executed a search warrant on his property and discovered human tissue that matched Lueck’s DNA profile in a burn pile in his backyard, prompting his arrest.
The district attorney said A human bone, charred muscular tissue, part of a scalp, with hair, a cellphone, and other charred personal items” of Lueck’s were found in what appeared to be a “freshly dug site” behind Ajayi’s home, while “charred black fabric, buckles,” and other evidence were found in an alleyway near his house.