Salt Lake City police have charged a man with murder in the killing of missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, officials announced Friday.
The suspect, identified as Ayoola Ajayi, was taken into custody Friday morning and also faces charges of aggravated kidnapping, desecration of a human body and obstruction of justice, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said.
“I will not be saying the killer’s name again,” an emotional Brown told reporters.
Lueck, 23, was last seen meeting an unknown individual around 3 a.m. on June 17 near a park in Salt Lake City after being dropped off by a Lyft driver.
Her uncle, reading a statement on behalf of her family Friday, said they would like to “express their gratitude” to all the law enforcement agencies that assisted in the investigation. He also said her family is “grateful” of those who supported it.
Police searched Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home this week and named him as a person of interest before arresting him Friday. During their search, they dug up holes in the home’s backyard and removed items from the property for further forensic investigation.
Brown said they searched the home after neighbors told police they saw the suspect burning a fire in the backyard. He said investigators should a fresh dig area in the backyard as well as charred personal items belonging to Lueck.
The suspect recently expressed a desire to build a secret, soundproofed room with hooks on its walls in the basement of his home, a contractor revealed to Fox News on Friday.