Update: As of June 25, police are still searching for missing University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck.
As cars rolled into the north entrance of Liberty Park on Saturday evening, Sara Richardson-Williams held out flyers and pushed them toward the passenger side windows.
“This little girl is missing,” Richardson-Williams said repeatedly, turning the flyer toward the cars’ occupants.
The missing person is Mackenzie Lueck, a 23-year-old University of Utah student. She’s in the same sorority as Richardson-Williams’ daughter. Richardson-Williams can’t help but think of Lueck as she would her own daughter, and the mother on Saturday described herself as “very, worried, very concerned.”
The parents of Mackenzie Lueck reported their daughter missing Thursday afternoon, though early Monday was the last time anyone heard from her. Friends and people who have heard about Lueck’s disappearance in the news and on social media went around Salt Lake City on Saturday to distribute flyers.
Liberty Park was the first focus. There were plans later in the evening to distribute flyers in other Salt Lake City parks and at the Utah Arts Festival, which continues through Sunday.
Damaris Zarco doesn’t know Lueck, but she read about the effort to find her and went to Liberty Park to take a stack of flyers.
"I just figured,” Zarco said, “if I went missing, I would want someone looking for me.”
Volunteers, including some from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward whose boundaries include Lueck’s home near Trolley Square, were asked to check in with the organizer, Ashley Fine. She is one of Lueck’s sisters in Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Fine had the volunteers sign their names and phone numbers.
Before getting started, most volunteers had questions about Lueck’s vanishing. Fine would politely run through the facts she knows.
Lueck had been in her home state of California for her grandmother’s funeral. She landed at Salt Lake City International Airport early Monday and texted her parents about 1 a.m. to say she had arrived.
She then took a car from the ride-sharing service Lyft from the airport. No one has seen her since that ride.
Fine said Lueck’s phone has been off since Monday, and she has not been active on social media; Lueck didn’t show up for her job at a Salt Lake City laboratory nor classes at the U.; her cat and her car remain at her house. Lueck’s luggage hasn’t been located either, Fine said.
Salt Lake City police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said Saturday that the car took Lueck from the airport to North Salt Lake — the municipality in Davis County. Shearer declined to provide an address.
“We’ve confirmed with Lyft, the app, that’s where she requested to go, and with the driver that that’s where she did go,” Shearer said.
Shearer said the driver and Lyft have been cooperative. Lyft, in a statement to FOX 13, said the car’s route showed no irregularities and the driver picked up more app users immediately after making Lueck’s stop.
Police have not been searching for Lueck in North Salt Lake because they have no evidence she remained there, Shearer said.
“We don’t have anyone searching any particular area right now," Shearer said, "because we don’t have any credible evidence of where she might be.”
There’s no evidence Lueck is in danger, Shearer said, “other than the fact she hasn’t been heard from.”
Fine said she didn’t know why Lueck would go to North Salt Lake or anywhere other than home. Fine assumes Lueck was meeting someone, but doesn’t know who. Lueck had no significant other, Fine said.
As people searched for Lueck, some said the case of another woman who studied at the U. was on their minds.
Lauren McCluskey, 21, was killed on campus Oct. 22 by a man she briefly dated. McCluskey had reported to campus police that the man, Melvin Rowland, had been extorting her. A detective did not investigate the case, or determine Rowland was a sex offender who was on parole, before the killing.
Rachael Palmer, who graduated in May and also was in Alpha Chi Omega with Lueck, was handing out flyers when asked about Lueck and McCluskey. While the two women share some demographics, Palmer pointed out that McCluskey asked police for help multiple times while there’s no indication Lueck was having a problem with a partner. Palmer was trying to stay optimistic, saying no one knows where Lueck is, much less whether she was the victim of domestic violence.
“I’m hoping that no news is good news,” Palmer said.
Domestic violence awareness and prevention is Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy, Palmer said, and she made sure to pay attention to dangers as she traveled alone in Europe recently. She finished her trip safely, but was surprised to hear Lueck had disappeared in Utah.
“You’re supposed to be safe at home,” Palmer said.
Fine on Saturday complimented Salt Lake City police, saying officers had been watching Lueck’s home and were questioning people if they had seen her. But Fine said the McCluskey case showed her the need to be proactive in helping women who may be in trouble.
“We know we need to do things to find her,” Fine said. “It’s not just the police’s responsibility.”
Anyone with information about Lueck’s whereabouts can contact Salt Lake City Police at 801-799-3000 and reference case No. 19-111129.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.