On the night University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck disappeared, at least one and perhaps two men were renting rooms in the Salt Lake City home of her accused killer, recently unsealed documents show.
Lueck’s last known location was a North Salt Lake park where she met Ayoola Ajayi around 3 a.m. on June 17, 2019, where she arrived in a Lyft ride from the Salt Lake City airport. Officials have said Ajayi’s phone was at the park at that time, and then back at his residence in Salt Lake City within minutes.
The search warrant documents indicated an unknown woman in a Subaru was already parked in the lot when Lueck arrived. “Another female got out and helped Mackenzie with her luggage,” police wrote. Lueck’s Lyft driver told police the “contact between Mackenzie and this unknown female appeared casual and friendly.”
However, a man who told KUTV-Ch. 2 this week that he had been Lueck’s Lyft driver said he put Lueck’s luggage in the waiting car himself, and said he had assumed the driver was a woman.
Ajayi has been charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a human body in connection with Lueck’s death. Days after she went missing, police said they found burned human remains and items belonging to Lueck in a fire pit at Ajayi’s home. Police found the 23-year-old’s body two weeks later in Logan Canyon.
A preliminary hearing in the case is set for March 12.
Police have not disclosed how or when they believe Lueck and Ajayi met, but the search warrant documents reveal how officers made one connection between them. Information provided by the TextMe app revealed several IP addresses that were used to communicate with Lueck’s phone on June 17, and one was registered to Ajayi, then 31.
On the night of June 16-17, Lueck had flown from California, where her family lives, to Salt Lake City, where she was attending the U. In requests to search Ajayi’s and Lueck’s homes and digital records, police identified two renters who may have been staying at Ajayi’s house at the time of Lueck’s death.
One of the men confirmed he was staying at the home, in the Fairpark neighborhood, from June 15 to June 21. On the morning of June 17, the renter said, he awoke to find Ajayi sitting on a trash can in front of his open garage, next to his Kia Optima.
Ajayi told the renter he had been trying unsuccessfully to siphon gas out of the car and asked the renter if he knew how to do it, police wrote. Ajayi explained that he wanted the gasoline to burn some wood pallets in the driveway because there wasn’t room for them in his garbage cans, police wrote.
The renter said he told Ajayi that burning the pallets in an open fire in his yard was probably forbidden, and that Ajayi should break them apart to fit them in the garbage, police wrote.
Ajayi then invited the renter to join him for a trip to a grocery store to buy a can of gasoline, police wrote. When they returned to the home, the renter took a shower and went back outside to find the pallets and a white door on fire in the backyard, police wrote.
The renter “said a neighbor lady then started yelling at Ayoola and telling him if he did not put the fire out she was going to call the fire department,” police wrote. The renter “said he could not believe Ayoola had ignited the fire in his backyard and went inside because he did not want to be involved with the incident.”
That morning, the renter told police, Ajayi also mentioned he had been up all night and was “going on no sleep.”
The newly released documents say that Ajayi later told police he had PTSD and anxiety, and that when he needed to talk to someone he’d often chat with the people renting rooms at his home, which he advertised on Airbnb. Ajayi also mentioned he’d “hang out” with renters, police wrote.
A cadaver dog later led investigators to charred human tissue in some disturbed ground in the backyard; the evidence matched Lueck’s DNA, police have said. The search warrant documents further detail the forensic evidence and Lueck possessions that police had previously described finding. They also list other potential evidence seized, such as knives and scissors.
Investigators also sought information on a third person who may have been in contact with Ajayi at the time Lueck died: another renter who reportedly was staying at Ajayi’s house at that time.
The renter who went to buy gas with Ajayi on June 17 said a second man checked in on June 15 and “left unexpectedly” four days later, police wrote.
Ajayi confirmed the second renter had prepaid for 30 days and was at his home on June 16, police wrote. But when investigators called that man, he said he had stayed at Ajayi’s house for nine days earlier that month, leaving June 14.
If that were true, investigators noted, he would not have encountered the other renter, who arrived June 15. Airbnb records align with the earlier dates reported by the man, police wrote, leading investigators to believe the man was renting from Ajayi apart from Airbnb.
Police also sought phone and digital records tied to the second renter. At the time of Lueck’s death, the man was a suspect in a rape case in Salt Lake City; he since has been charged with first-degree felony rape.