Category: mackenzie lueck

Man accused of killing MacKenzie Lueck charged with child porn possession

SALT LAKE CITY — The man accused of killing 23-year-old University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck in June has been charged with possession of child pornography.

Ayoola Ajayi was charged with 19 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after investigators seized a computer during the investigation into Lueck’s death.

“West Regional Computer Forensics Lab examined the computer and found numerous images of children engaged in sex acts,” a news release from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office said.

Each of the 19 images documented in a probable cause statement showed a girl between the ages of 4 and 8.

Ajayi was already in jail after he was arrested on June 28 and charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body in connection with Lueck’s death.

Lueck disappeared in the early morning hours of June 17. Her charred remains were found in Logan Canyon on July 3.

New witness: MacKenzie Lueck murder suspect wanted to carry out ‘disturbing’ project

SALT LAKE CITY — New details are unfolding in the investigation into the murder of University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck, and a witness is now describing why he’s troubled by what he said suspect Ayoola Ajayi asked him to do in the days after Lueck disappeared.

That man said Ajayi reached out to him for a backyard landscaping project. That proposed project has now turned into evidence for detectives.

Landon Fullmer owns 360 Landscapes. He’s taken on quite a few projects for the busy summer season.

Though, when he thinks about this summer, there’s one project, in particular, he’ll always remember — even though he never actually took it on.

“I just felt like there was something that he was trying to cover up,” Fullmer said of the potential client.

He said a man named Ayoola Ajayi contacted Fullmer through Angie’s List on Monday, June 24. That was one week after Lueck disappeared, and days after her family reported her missing.

Apparently, Ajayi wanted the land in his backyard leveled. That’s all he indicated on his request, Fullmer said.

“We had a phone conversation,” Fullmer explained. “I asked him to be a little bit more specific in what he was looking for. He said his backyard needed to be leveled or graded, maybe some soil and some sod brought in.”

To Fullmer, Ajayi’s request was pretty typical of clients. That is, at first.

Ajayi wanted the project done ASAP. Fullmer said Ajayi needed was in a hurry and wanted everything done within a few days.

“When I told him we were out a month, he was pretty disappointed,” Fullmer said. “But, I kind of told him that’s what to expect in June in landscaping.”

He said Ajayi told Fullmer he’d try to find someone else who could do the project sooner, but they decided to set up a tentative bid appointment at Ajayi’s home.

They set it for two days later, on Wednesday, June 26.

When that day came around, Fullmer texted Ajayi but never heard back.

“We ended up never meeting. And, I think that was the day police ended up on-site,” Fullmer said.

It was the day Salt Lake City Police showed up with a search warrant at Ajayi’s home and took him in for questioning.

It was also the day detectives dug through an apparent burn pile in the backyard, where they later said they found human tissue from MacKenzie and her burned belongings.

Her body was eventually discovered burned and buried in Logan Canyon, SLCPD later said.

As soon as Fullmer made the connection, he said he called police.

Fullmer’s text messages and phone call information are now part of a huge list the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office recently released.

Now looking back at what Fullmer said Ajayi asked him to do, Fullmer is glad he didn’t get a chance to take the job.

“I had a like a physical reaction to it,” Fullmer said, of his realization. “I’m like, I was supposed to go and bring in soil and sod and bury that backyard. So, it’s kind of a disturbing thought.”

New documents outline evidence in MacKenzie Lueck murder investigation

SALT LAKE CITY — A document filed by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office lists everything they’ve collected to go to trial, as they build their case against suspect Ayoola Ajayi.

The ‘Response to Request for Discovery’ is eight pages of a laundry list of warrants, evidence, interviews and data in the murder of University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck.

It also reveals more about what apps and social media sites investigators looked into when it came to the potential relationship between Lueck and Ajayi. Up until now, Salt Lake City Police have said very little about how they think the two met or knew each other.

Chris Bertram, retired Unified Police deputy chief who is now a criminal justice professor and private investigator, took a look through the pages to help explain what the document outlines.

He pointed out that it showed police have interviewed Ajayi twice. According to the document, they’ve also interviewed other people who knew or spoke with Ajayi and Lueck.

Each line represents potentially hours and hours of work done on one specific aspect of the investigation– whether it be obtaining a piece of surveillance video, looking at bank account data, or executing a search warrant.

According to the document, 28 search warrants have been filed in the case. Investigators have taken more than 3,000 photos in different places, including at Ajayi’s home, Lueck’s home and in Logan Canyon where her body was recovered.

Detectives have conducted interviews with at least 11 different people, including Ajayi. There are four witnesses listed.

They’ve obtained surveillance video from six different locations.

The list indicates that the DA’s office has collected data and records from Lyft, Smith’s Marketplace, Airbnb, Comcast, Google, Wells Fargo and US Bank.

They’ve compiled all of the DNA evidence in the case as well, including lab reports.

“This is a significant amount of discovery that they’re producing,” Bertram said.

Hundreds of hours of work, he indicated, that would take weeks to sift through in its entirety.

“I can’t imagine what this actually looks like printed out,” he said. “It’s probably several telephone book-sized binders.”

The section of the document entitled “Social Media” covers what accounts detectives looked at in the case.

“You can maybe see how they potentially were introduced to each other, or maybe became acquainted with each other,” Bertram said, of Ajayi and Lueck.

According to the document, search warrants were served on both Ajayi and Lueck’s accounts on Seeking Arrangement and Tinder.

Tinder is a location-based dating app.

Seeking Arrangement is a site that advertises sugar baby and sugar daddy relationships.

“Tinder and Seeking Arrangements are commonplace in people meeting, or hooking up, or dating,” Bertram explained.

Those are the only social media apps where detectives obtained warrants for both Lueck and Ajayi’s information.

Warrants were also served on Lueck’s accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Text Me and Lyft.

“What’s interesting, is there’s nothing else in this document that kind of indicates how they may have met,” he said.

It’s the first time the investigation has officially made a link with specific dating app accounts.

Bertram explained that this list is far from complete, and that it will continue to grow as the DA gathers additional evidence and information in the case.

He said the document is what Ajayi’s defense team will look over, as law enforcement and prosecutors put everything together that they will take to trial.

You can view the full documents below (Fox 13 has redacted the names of witnesses and other sensitive information included in the document).

Response to Request for Discovery Documents

Mixed reviews as Utah agencies try out rapid DNA testing

SALT LAKE CITY — For the past nine months, the Utah Attorney General’s office has been using two rapid DNA testing machines that look like printers to test DNA in under two hours.

Nate Mutter, the assistant chief investigator with the AG’s office, is in charge of the program.

“We’re extremely pleased with what we’re seeing so far,” Mutter said.

DNA samples are loaded into a chip and placed into a machine that is designed to prevent tampering.

“We put the chip in here and I can’t open it. I don’t even have a key to this. The only time it will open is when it’s ready to accept the chip,” Mutter said.

The machine prints out a PDF that details whether the item is a DNA match.

“Our primary focus is property crimes and gun possession crimes,” Mutter said.

While they’re mostly being used to test guns, the machines were used in one high profile homicide case out of Cache County, the abduction and murder of five-year-old Elizabeth Shelley.

Thanks to the new technology, police were able to connect items of evidence to a suspect (Alex Whipple) very quickly.

“All the blood evidence from the knife, his sweatshirt and his watch came back associated with Elizabeth Shelley. The beer can came back associated with him,” Mutter said.

However, in a similar situation out of Salt Lake County, the homicide of MacKenzie Lueck, law enforcement didn’t use this new technology.

The Lueck case was under the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s jurisdiction.

“As of today, it just doesn’t have the kind of reliability that we think we need to be able to offer to a judge,” said Jeff Hall, the chief deputy for the DA.

While the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office acknowledges the benefits of rapid DNA testing when it comes to public safety, they say it’s a little different with regards to criminal justice. The main reason being this new technology hasn’t really been tested in court.

“In the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, ‘How am I going to present this to a judge? Is the judge going to admit this evidence? Is the defense going to raise an objection to the evidence?'” Hall explained.

“The only way you get something into court is to use it,” Mutter said.

In the case of Mackenzie Lueck, the state crime lab  delivered DNA results in 9 hours. A spokesperson for the Utah Department of Public Safety says they typically get results in between 9 and 12 hours.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office and prosecutors across the country are watching the courts closely to see how judges rule on this new technology. Once a judicial precedent is set, many are more likely to get on board.

Police find additional evidence in MacKenzie Lueck case; suspect appears in court

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police found new evidence in the MacKenzie Lueck case on the edge of the Jordan River — just 15 minutes away from where the man charged with her murder made his first appearance in court.

Ayoola Ajayi’s face was seen and voice was heard Monday for the first time since he was arrested and charged for the murder of 23-year-old Lueck.

“Good morning, sir” was all he said to Judge Mark Kouris during his initial appearance in court via video conference from the Salt Lake County Jail.

The judge read Ajayi’s charges — aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body — then scheduled another appearance in court and dismissed the accused killer.

Some of Lueck’s closest friends were there.

“We just immediately lost our breath,” Ashley Fine said of when they first saw Ajayi’s face. “I think we were holding hands.”

“When I saw him, I felt really angry and … really sad at the same time,” Kennedy Stoner said.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake Police were only 15 minutes away, collecting new evidence for the case.

 

Multiple items were found at the Jordan River Parkway near 700 North that police confirmed are connected to the case.

Police even called in diving teams to see if there was anything deeper in the water.

SLCPD Lt. Brett Olsen said police will be going through those items as they continue the Lueck investigation.

As the case progresses, Lueck’s friends struggle to deal with her death.

“Even right now I feel like we can call her, text her, and she’ll answer,” Fine said. “We didn’t get to say goodbye to our friend.”

They are constantly reminded of the pain from knowing she’s gone, plus the pain of not knowing the reason why.

“Why did he take our friend away from us?” Nisha Williams said. “She had so much to continue to give the world.”

‘MacKenzie’s Voice’: sorority sisters and friends set up nonprofit

SALT LAKE CITY — Mackenzie’s Lueck’s sorority sisters, who initially launched the search for her last month, have started a nonprofit called MacKenzie’s Voice.

“When MacKenzie went missing, the first thing we said is, ‘What do we do? What is there to do?'” said Ashley Fine, one of her sorority sisters.

Helping others figure out what to do when their loved one goes missing is the motivation behind MacKenzie’s Voice.

“We learned that there`s not really a handbook or a manual or a toolkit for friends or family members when their friend goes missing,” Fine said.

The nonprofit organization is hoping to provide that toolkit with resources such as media lists and guidelines for statements.

“Helping families with grief and trauma counseling or advocating for victims,” Fine said.

MacKenzie’s Voice is also hoping to provide educational opportunities for young men and women about safe online dating practices.

“It’s not the outcome that we wanted, but at least we have answers,” Fine said.

Less than a month after Lueck went missing, police located her body and arrested a man for her murder, something these girls have learned is rare.

“We were fortunate in a way. Her case has gotten a lot of attention, and I don`t know if we would`ve found her or this person if it didn`t,” Fine said.

They’re paying it forward for their friend.

“She wanted to be a nurse. Very service-oriented, and that`s why we really want to pursue this non-profit — because we know it’s something she would`ve wanted us to do,” Fine said.

However, they’re also doing this for themselves.

“It gives us an outlet to help the community and use our grief towards a positive way,” Fine said.

Information on how to get involved can be found on the group’s website or Facebook page.

Police searching near Jordan River for additional evidence in MacKenzie Lueck homicide investigation

SALT LAKE CITY — Police are searching along the Jordan River Parkway Trail for more evidence in the MacKenzie Lueck murder investigation Monday.

Sgt. Brandon Shearer of Salt Lake City Police said the search is focused in the area of 700 North and Jordan River Parkway Trail.

Shearer said officers were in that area doing outreach with people experiencing homelessness, and while in the area they stumbled across evidence connected to the Lueck case.

Police would not elaborate on what kind of evidence was found.

Lueck was reported missing last month, and Ayoola Ajayi has since been charged with kidnapping and murder in connection with her death. Prosecutors said cell phone data led them to Logan Canyon, where Lueck’s body was recovered.

The suspect was scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday. 

Man accused of murdering MacKenzie Lueck to make first court appearance Monday

SALT LAKE CITY — The man accused of kidnapping and murdering MacKenzie Lueck will make his first court appearance Monday.

Ayoola Ajayi  is due in court Monday morning and is charged with one count each of aggravated murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.

Prosecutors detailed the trail of evidence last week when they announced the formal charges. DA Sim Gill said phone data led them from Ajayi’s home to Logan Canyon, where Lueck’s body was found. 

Gill said the autopsy determined Lueck likely died due to blunt force trauma to the head.

Police recovered charred remains of personal items and human tissue that matched Lueck’s DNA profile in Ajayi’s backyard. Prosecutors said cell phone data put Lueck and Ajayi at Hatch Park within one minute of each other and just before Lueck’s phone went offline.

Lueck was studying at University of Utah reported missing in June, and the search for her gained national attention–propelled by her sorority sisters.

Formal murder, kidnapping charges filed in MacKenzie Lueck homicide

SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors have filed formal charges in the murder of MacKenzie Lueck.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office charged Ayoola Ajayi with aggravated murder, a capital offense; aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body.

The body of Lueck, a University of Utah student, was found last week in Logan Canyon. A search of Ajayi’s home in the Fairpark neighborhood found a burn pit where police said they had recovered some human tissue believed to be her.

Gill said that search turned up human bone, charred muscular tissue, part of a scalp with hair and personal items that included a cellphone.

Neighbors reported seeing Ajayi pouring gasoline on a fire in the backyard and described a “horrible smell.”

Data from Ajayi’s phone led investigators to Logan Canyon, where officers located a “charred human body.” DNA testing confirmed those remains were consistent with Lueck’s DNA profile.

She was found with her arms bound behind her back and a hole in her skull that a medical examiner determined was the result of blunt force trauma.

Lueck’s family reported her missing on June 20 after not hearing from her since June 17. She had texted them to let them know she had landed at the Salt Lake City International Airport after a flight from Los Angeles.

Police said Lueck took a Lyft to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake and met with an unknown person. Gill said evidence shows she was dropped off at the park at 2:59 a.m., nine minutes after she had last texted Ajayi.

Ajayi is expected to appear before a judge sometime in the next day or so.

This is a breaking news story. Updates on FOX 13 and fox13now.com as information becomes available.

Police expert: here’s what could have led to finding MacKenzie Lueck’s remains

LOGAN, Utah — After Friday’s announcement that police recovered the body of murdered University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck in Logan Canyon, nearly 75 miles from where she was last seen, it brings up questions as to what led law enforcement to that area.

Until Friday, the public has only known about the investigation and search at suspect Ayoola Ajayi’s home in Salt Lake City.

It was in the home’s backyard that police said they found human tissue matching MacKenzie’s DNA, in a burn pile in the backyard.

In a press conference Friday morning, Salt Lake City Police and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill couldn’t give information on what tipped investigators off to where they found her remains in Logan Canyon.

However, a law enforcement expert is giving a few possibilities, based on his experience with investigations.

Chris Bertram, a retired deputy chief from the Unified Police Department, said there are two probabilities.

“One is that he is cooperating, and we as the public just don’t know that,” he said in an interview Friday afternoon.

Bertram, now a private investigator and assistant professor at Salt Lake Community College, indicated that if Ajayi is now cooperating with police, it could be because a plea deal is in the works.

Another way the investigation may have taken police to Logan Canyon could have been from digging into Ajayi’s background and technology data.

“It’s important to remember that he lived in Logan,” Bertram said. “He may have been comfortable with that area. As investigators have done the backgrounds on him, they may have found areas that he was very familiar with or that he liked to go to.”

In addition to that background information, he said police could have used technology to trace and track Ajayi’s whereabouts during key moments in the days after MacKenzie went missing.

“In that case — traveling or following cell phone sites, or tracking on his phone, or maybe a tracking on the GPS in his vehicle — they may have absolutely downloaded that and then able to determine where he was,” Bertram explained.

If they were able to find a specific location, he said investigators could have gone and searched from there.

“They could have used other tools, like cadaver dogs or other type[s] of technology, cameras in the area to determine where he was, and that could have led them to the body,” Bertram said.

With the remains now recovered, he talked about how that could help answer some huge questions in the investigation into her death.

“Can they determine how she died, and what were circumstances of that? What surrounded that?” Bertram asked. “That will, again, strengthen for the district attorney the case that they have, whether this is a capital case or a homicide case.”

If this turns into a capital case, that could mean the state would seek the death penalty or life in prison.

For now, with the discovery of Lueck’s remains, Bertram said District Attorney Sim Gill has enough to file formal charges and go to trial.

“Unless the subject is cooperating and they’re making a deal arrangement, I think at this point Sim has everything he needs to formally charge him,” Bertram said. “Especially with the charges that he was booked into jail on.”

Ajayi is in the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.

Gill said in the press conference Friday morning that they expected to file charges early next week.