Man charged with murder, kidnapping in case of missing Utah student

University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck was last seen on June 17 after arriving on a flight at the Salt Lake City airport and taking a Lyft to a park.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Drew Weisholtz

Police in Utah have charged a man with murder in connection with the case of missing college student Mackenzie Lueck, reports NBC affiliate KSL in Salt Lake City.

Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, 31, was arrested Friday morning and will be charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and desecration of a body, Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown said.

Earlier on Friday, police announced they had taken someone into custody.

"SLCPD took one person into custody this morning regarding the MacKenzie Lueck case. We will be providing an update at 11:30 a.m at the Public Safety Building," police wrote.

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KSL had also reported police took a second man into custody, although the police's tweet specified it was only one. Both men were taken into custody at an apartment complex, reports KSL.

On Thursday, police said they had identified a "person of interest" in the case. It's not clear if the person taken into custody is the same person.

The news comes after police searched a Salt Lake City home that is located near a park where they believe the University of Utah student was dropped off by a Lyft driver and then got into another car more than a week ago.

The homeowner, who has not been identified, has been questioned by detectives and remained free.

"I want to state that no arrests have been made. However, the owner of the residence where we served the warrant last night is a person of interest," Brown said during a press conference Thursday.

Investigators are also homing in on what Brown called "a digital forensic footprint" of phones and computers that may help uncover who Lueck spoke to prior to her disappearance.

"We would like to know who she was communicating with in the last few days up and to including that night when she disappeared," Brown told NBC News.

During the search of the house, officers used shovels on the property, seized a car, took bags of evidence — including ammunition — and focused on a detached garage. Authorities are also trying to track down a mattress that had been given away. Neighbors said a bad odor and smoke recently came from the property.

The home in question had also been rented on Airbnb. Gillian Arce told NBC News she had once stayed there.

"As I was leaving he was asking me a bunch of questions just about where I was going, what I was doing, why was I in Salt Lake. He asked me where I was working," she said.

"And then a couple weeks later he tried to friend me on Facebook and I just didn't accept it because it's a little weird."

Lueck, 23, has been missing for 11 days. She was last seen June 17 at Salt Lake City International Airport. Police said she texted her mother around 2 a.m. to say she'd landed safely. She was returning to Utah from her grandmother’s funeral in California.

Lueck took a Lyft to Hatch Park and was dropped off a few minutes before 3 a.m. Police believe another car picked her up at the park, which is about a seven-minute drive from the home that was searched.

On Wednesday, police released the last known photos of her, surveillance images taken while she waited for her luggage at the airport.

"We will do everything we can to find Mackenzie," Brown said.