Authorities have uncovered additional evidence in the case of a murdered Utah college student whose body was discovered with her arms bound behind her back in a canyon.
The body of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck was recovered from Logan Canyon, 85 miles north of Salt Lake City, last week.
Police charged Ayoola A. Ajayi, 31, with her murder after some of her remains and belongings were found buried in his backyard.
Several items related to the murder investigation were discovered by police divers in the Jordan River on Monday morning after a city parks employee noticed them.
The body of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck was recovered from Logan Canyon, 85 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah, last week
Lueck’s accused killer, Ayoola A. Ajayi, appeared briefly in court on Monday for his first appearance alongside his court appointed lawyer. He did not speak or enter a plea to murder, kidnapping and other charges
Police have not revealed what the items are.
The discovery came as Lueck’s accused killer appeared briefly in court on Monday for his first appearance.
The former Army tech-worker appeared by video from jail alongside a court-appointed attorney during a quick hearing Monday to set a future court date.
He did not speak or enter a plea to murder, kidnapping and other charges.
Ajayi is accused of killing Lueck after she suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Police say her body was found in the canyon with her arms bound behind her with zip ties.
Investigators had earlier found ‘female human tissue’ that matched Lueck’s DNA in the backyard of Ajayi’s home.
They also found charred items that are believed to have been Lueck’s personal belongings.
Police charged Ayoola A. Ajayi, 31, with her murder after some of her remains and belongings were found buried in his backyard
Authorities previously said some of charred remains, including ‘human tissue’ that matched Lueck’s DNA, were found in the backyard of Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home
Lueck’s arms were bound behind her back with zip ties and she had suffered blunt force trauma to her skull, which a medical examiner said could have been fatal.
She vanished on June 17 after she returned from a trip to her hometown of El Segundo, California for her grandmother’s funeral.
Police said she took a Lyft from the airport to a park north of Salt Lake City where she met someone at about 3am.
She was reported missing three days later.
A widespread search for her resulted in police arresting the man they say was the last person to communicate with her: Ajayi.
They say his phone location data put him in the same park at the same time Lueck was last seen.
Police have not revealed a motive for the killing or how the pair knew each other.
Investigators have said they are investigating a report from a construction contractor who said Ajayi approached him in April about building a secretive and soundproof room in his home.
Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person who loved spending time with her family and looked forward to a career in medicine or health care.
She vanished on June 17 after she returned from a trip to her hometown of El Segundo, California for her grandmother’s funeral. She is pictured above on airport CCTV after flying into Salt Lake City airport
Lueck disappeared on June 17 after she returned from a trip to California. She took a Lyft from the airport to a park where she met someone. Police say the last person she communicated with was Ajayi who was also in the park at the time
A California native, Lueck was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing.
She was expected to graduate in spring 2020.
Ajayi is an IT worker who attended Utah State University on and off but never earned a degree and was briefly in the Army National Guard.
Following his arrest, it emerged in court documents that he had been banned from the university campus in 2012. The school took the step after Ajayi’s student visa expired and he was arrested on suspicion of having a stolen an iPad.
He had also stopped attending class there the year before but continued to sleep on residence hall couches and keep things in a janitor’s closet, according to police and university documents.
Jail documents show Ajayi, a native of Nigeria, is now a U.S. citizen.
At the time of his 2012 arrest, police documents indicate his student visa had expired but he had married a woman in Texas. That marriage ended in a divorce in January, court records show.
Ajayi was allowed to enroll in classes again in 2015 after resolving his immigration status.
His ex-wife Tenisha Ajayi told KUTV that the marriage ended after he became controlling and abusive, forbidding her from talking to other people and eventually threatening to have her kidnapped and killed.
Separate police documents show he was also investigated on a rape allegation in 2014 but no charges were filed in the rape case.