On New Year’s Eve, vandals defaced a billboard of KIMT anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit, from Mason City, Iowa.
The billboard is among three in Mason City, that shows a picture of the beautiful Iowa news anchor, asking the question “Someone knows something, is it you?”
The cryptic words sprayed in bright yellow paint say, “Frank Stearns Machine Shed” across the bottom half of the billboard. Frank Stearns was a longtime detective with Mason City Police Department who diligently worked Jodi’s case. Now retired, Stearns is now a city death scene investigator.
In 2011, in a bizarre twist of events, the Globe Gazette reported that former Mason City police officer Maria Ohl accused two Mason City police officers and a retired Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agent of being involved in the abduction and potential murder of Jodi.
Ohl, a ten-year veteran, said she received credible information from an informant in 2007, and again in 2009, who implicated Lt. Frank Stearns, Lt. Ron Vande Weerd and Bill Basler in the abduction. Ohl said she told her superiors but heard only crickets.
Ohl says she was terminated due to her handling of Jodi’s case information.
“It’s horrifically disturbing. They’re still working on the taxpayers’ dollar – the whistleblower was put on administrative leave and terminated.”
Joshua Benson, an evening anchor at an Orlando ABC affiliate who founded FindJodi.com, said Ohl had also confided in him but he could not find any information that would corroborate her claims.
In fact, at the time the complaint was filed, an official investigation also found no validity in Ohl’s claims.
Cold Case investigator Steve Ridge told KIMT that he knows how and when the billboard was vandalized. He says two individuals dressed in black parked in the rear alley behind a tattoo parlor and erected an aluminum ladder against the wall at 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
While one held the ladder, the other spray-painted “Frank Stearns” in large letters and “Machine Shed” in smaller print below. Ridge said the parking lot of the nearby bar was full, as dozens of cars passed right below the billboard while the individuals were vandalizing it.
Ridge spoke to Frank Steans at his residence on January 3, 2020. His residence in a rural community does have a detached building on the premises, however, Stearns lived elsewhere in 1995. While the billboard vandals surely meant to dredge up old wounds and accusations, Stearns remains a respected member of the community and says he hopes they are found and punished.
Jodi, 27, vanished from the outside of her downtown apartment in Mason City on Tuesday, June 27, 1995. The day before, Jodi had played in the local Chamber of Commerce golf tournament. According to friend John Vansice, afterward, Jodi went to his house to view a videotape of a birthday celebration that he had set up for her earlier in the month.
Jodi went home and called a friend before going to bed. She usually left for work at 3:00 a.m. to anchor the morning show at KIMT. At approximately 4:00 a.m. KIMT producer Amy Kuns noticed that Jodi had not shown up to work. “I called her twice. I talked to her and woke her up the first time,” Kuns told WFLA news anchor Josh Benson. “The second time it just rang and rang. I don’t remember the times. I had obviously woken her up. She asked what time it was. I told her. She said she would be right in.”
Jodi was usually prompt and never missed work, so by 7:00 a.m. KIMT staff had called the Mason City Police Department to conduct a welfare check.
The Police Investigation
When police arrived at Jodi’s apartment, shortly after 7:00 a.m., her red Mazda Miata was in the parking lot. Officers found a pair of red women’s pumps, a bottle of hairspray, blower dryer and earrings, along with a bent car key, strewn around the car reflecting a struggle had taken place at the vehicle.
A search was conducted of Jodi’s apartment, the parking lot, and the nearby Winnebago River.
Early on, the then Mason City Police Chief Jack Schlieper said he suspected foul play. Investigators from the Iowa DCI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would eventually join the search. It was later reported that investigators had lifted an unidentified palm print off her car.
By that Wednesday, as Jodi’s desk sat empty, police continued their extensive search for the young news anchor. Schlieper told reporters at a news conference that police and K-9 units were continuing to search along a two-mile area of the Winnebago River that runs through a park near Jodi’s apartment on North Kentucky Avenue.
Police did discover items of clothing along the riverbanks but at the time could not determine if they were Jodi’s.
Police confirmed that some residents heard noises that sounded like an animal or animal noises the morning Jodi vanished. We now know she screamed as she was dragged back down the center of the parking bumpers by her car, as her heel marks were left in the dirt on the pavement.
Neighbors also reported seeing a white van in the parking lot with its parking lights on that evening.
Eventually, there would be questions about whether the crime scene was correctly processed. In hindsight, the answer would be no. For instance, a friend of Jodi’s said police didn’t immediately tape off the crime scene which could have resulted in contamination or evidence being overlooked. In addition, Jodi’s car was released to her parents shortly after the disappearance instead of being kept as evidence.
Current Chief of Police Jeff Brinkley was asked by 48 Hours if he thought the car was released in haste. He replied, “Maybe.”
“We don’t have it,” Brinkley said. “But we just have to live with what we got, and –and try to do as good as we can with that.”
Brinkley is the fourth police chief to have Jodi’s case under his command.
“Basically, all my free time is following up on this case,” said Mason City Police Officer Terrance Prochaska, who took over the case in 2010.
“What caused her to sleep in that day? What caused her to answer the phone and rush to work? What was she doing the night before? We all want to know the fine details. We know where she was at. She was golfing. She had driven home and made a phone call to her friend. Those are facts. But it’s that gray area in between we don’t understand.”
Person of Interest
It is known after work; Jodi attended the gold tournament. While at the tournament, she told some of her friends that she had been receiving prank phone calls and was thinking of going to the police and changing her number.
Afterward, John Vansice, who was 22 years older than Jodi, was the last person to have seen her. They watched a video he had shot at the surprise birthday party he had arranged for her.
“She was like a daughter to me, she was like my own child,” Vansice said to KIMT in 1995. “I treated her like my own child.”
Though Vansice has long been suspected by friends of Jodi to have been involved in her abduction, a friend of Vansice named LaDonna Woodford says there is no way, because she had called him at 6:00 a.m. that morning wanting to go for a walk. When they walked, she says he didn’t seem anxious or out of sorts in any way.
Vansice also passed a polygraph in 1995 and never named an official suspect. However, in March 2017, search warrants were issued for the GPS records of Vansice’s 1999 Honda Civic and 2013 GMC 1500. It was the most substantial break in the case in decades. However, nothing of importance was ever recovered.
“We have never closed the case,” Chief Brinkley told 48 Hours. “It’s never been a closed case for us. It’s been an active investigation since it happened.”
“I’m not ready to quit yet,” Brinkley added.
JoAnn Nathe also told 48 Hours that she was once suspicious of John, but “we have to be objective; we have to have an open mind. It could be somebody we least expect.”
It has already been reported that Jodi had gone water skiing with John Vansice and a couple of friends the weekend before she vanished.
In Jodi’s June 25, 1995, entry in her journal she wrote, “Got home from a weekend trip to Iowa City — oh we had fun! It was wild, partying and water skiing. We skied at the Coralville Res. I’m improving on the skis — hips up, lean, etc. John’s son Trent gave me some great ski tip advice.”
In November 2019, Cold Case Investigator Steve Ridge revealed that Jodi also boarded the Mastercraft ski boat of two younger men she had met the same weekend.
Ridge told KWWL News that he spoke to witnesses who were at the lake that Saturday in 1995, who said Vansice was not enthused she had left to spend time with younger men, but he did not overreact or cause a scene, as some said Vansice was inclined to do.
Ridge said that once Jodi and a female friend boarded the boat, they were seen drinking and dancing on the boat. Ridge said the owner of the boat took a video of them which was given to Mason City Police investigators.
Ridge said he was still investigating whether one or both of the young men may have visited Jodi, or attempted to visit her the next day, or Monday, the night she was abducted.
Ridge believes it is conceivable that a confrontation could have occurred that would shed light on a motive for Jodi’s abduction. “A lot of unfortunate things came together in a relatively short period of time just before Jodi went missing,” claims Ridge.
Ridge continues to work with authorities though he is an independent investigator.
Jodi was born June 5, 1968, and raised in Long Prairie, Minnesota, a small town of less than 3,500 in 2010. She was the youngest daughter of Maurice Huisentruit and her mother Imogene “Jane” Anderson.
In high school, Jodi excelled at golf and was considered to have amazing talent at the game. Her team won the Class A tournament in 1985 and 1986.
After high school, Jodi went to St. Cloud University, where she studied speech and mass communications, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1990.
Though she wanted to be a reporter, after graduating, Jodi’s first job was with Northwest Airlines. She began her broadcasting career with KGAN in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as the station’s bureau chief. She then returned to Minnesota for a job with KSAX in Alexandria before returning to Iowa for the position as a news anchor with KIMT.
“She wanted to be famous,” her childhood friend Kim Feist told 48 Hours.
Jodi was driven but she also was very close to her mom. In a late January 1994 diary entry, it said “improve my career, make more money, communicate, have more impact on a larger audience. Get the Huisentruit name out. Make Mom proud.”
“I couldn’t have had a better kid sister,” said Jodi’s sister JoAnn Nathe told WOWT in Omaha. “She tried to motivate me. What are your goals? That makes me stronger. It’s a nightmare not knowing where she is. We thought we would find her in the first few months.”
Their mother, Imogene, passed away in December 2014 at age 91, not knowing where her daughter was. “She so wanted to find Jodi,” Nathe said.
As time passes, it doesn’t get easier for families. Memories fade and tips wane, but the hope to bring Jodi home for a proper burial still burns bright in the hearts of those that loved her.
Police have announced that they suspect “no
foul play” in the death of a California man who was reported missing over a
month ago. Alex
Holden, 25, was reported missing on New Year’s Day after he was last seen
the night before. The Sacramento Police Department solicited the public’s help
in finding answers surrounding his disappearance, which was described as
“uncharacteristic” by his family.
Alex is the son of two Missouri Judges. Alex’s father, Judge
Calvin Holden, told the Springfield News-Leader, “He has no history of
disappearing. It’s very unusual. You know he missed work this morning, which is
extremely unusual. He’s very conscientious about his work.” Judge Holden
eventually went on to address the lingering question of whether or not his son
would take his own life, to which he gave a categorical denial, “It’s not him.
He would never do that. He was one of the happiest people you’d ever know.”
Friends and family were struck with confusion because Alex
had shared the location of his mobile device with several individuals with whom
he was close, but his phone went dead sometime earlier in the evening, so no
one was able to ascertain his last known location. He had been in an argument
that evening, and had set off on a walk to another location to sleep. He had
walked the route before, and was familiar with the area. His girlfriend,
Kennedi Perri, indicated that Alex had been drinking before his disappearance.
On Sunday, January 26, 2020, after almost a month since he
was reported missing, a
body found in the America River was identified as Alex Holden. In a tweet
regarding the tragic news, the Sacramento Police Department said, “This is
never the outcome we want from any missing person case. Our hope is that this
may provide some closure for the family.”
Law enforcement is remaining tight-lipped on the subject of a case that has mystified the town of Placerville, California. Eleven-year-old Roman Anthony Lopez was last seen at the family home on Coloma Street, January 11, 2020. Later that same day, the boy’s body was reportedly discovered. In a Facebook post, the Placerville Police Department said that the body was found. They also reported at a press conference that they discovered the body following a search of the area, and were investigating his death as “suspicious.” Little else was disclosed, however, leaving the community with devastating news, but no answers.
The radio silence from law enforcement officials has led the
public and the press asking questions, but maybe none so fervently as Roman’s
biological mother, Rochelle “Shelly” Lopez. Lopez is a military veteran, who
unfortunately developed an addiction to pills following an injury she sustained
while deployed in Iraq. Because of these circumstances, it was his biological
father, Jordan Piper, who was awarded primary custody of Roman. According to
Lopez, Piper had relocated several times over the past few years, and had made
it difficult for Lopez to see her son.
One of the most tragic aspects of the case so far is that Lopez learned of her son’s death through an online news article. Lopez told KOVR, “Why didn’t anybody let me know? Why didn’t they even know I existed? People in that town didn’t even know that I was his mother. There are so many things that are wrong with this situation and don’t add up and don’t make sense.”
There were seven other children in the home where Roman was
last seen. Those children were reportedly moved into protective custody
following the onset of the investigation. A spokesperson for the family told
Oxygen.com, “The Rochelle Lopez family has full confidence in the law
enforcement agencies investigating Roman’s death and know there will be resolve
and closure.” The family has offered no other comment as the family prepared to
travel to California in order to mourn the loss of Roman Lopez.
On January 16, the Placerville Police Department issued a
statement, “We realize that the press and public are looking for answers and
mourning the loss of Roman. The police department has also been affected, and
has been working tirelessly to complete the investigation. The complexity of
the case will require time and patience.” They went on to say that a pathology
report regarding the boy’s cause of death will not be available for about a
Investigating authorities have encouraged anyone with information regarding Roman Lopez’s death to call Detective Luke Gadow at (530) 642-5210, ext. 116.
Police arrest estranged husband and his girlfriend in connection with her disappearance…
Jennifer Dulous, 50, was last seen on May 24, 2019. The last time anyone heard from her, she was dropping off her five children at school in her black Chevrolet Suburban. Following that last point of contact, police investigating her disappearance have been following a trail of tangible and circumstantial evidence that paints a picture of a marriage fraught with control and intimidation, followed by an ugly custody battle that may have been the motive for a grisly, violent act.
On June 1st, police arrested Jennifer’s estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, charging them with tampering/fabricating physical evidence and hindering prosecution. The evidence cited in the arrest warrants includes blood spatter found in Jennifer’s garage, where police believe she was violently attacked. In nearby Hartford, police found Jennifer’s blood on clothes and sponges in multiple trash cans. Surveillance footage shows a man and woman arriving in a car, then the man dumping the clothes and other items into different bins. The description of both the man and woman match descriptions of Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis.
As far back as May 2017, police were able to confirm through court documents that Jennifer and her husband were in the grips of an ugly custody battle at the time of her disappearance. During those custody proceedings, Jennifer alleged that her husband had presented with growing “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior,” and raised a concern for the physical safety of both herself and her children. This fear was only compounded by the fact that as early as June 2017, Fotis Dulos made threats that if Jennifer did not adhere to his terms of their divorce, he would kidnap the children. Fotis now denies that he ever said those things to Jennifer. Jennifer also added that Fotis had bought a gun, which he now claims was purchased legally and only for the purpose of home security. On June 3, 2017, Jennifer Dulous said, “I am afraid of my husband. I know that filing for divorce and filing this motion will enrage him. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.”
More court transcripts with quotes from Fotis Dulos seem to corroborate that perceived rage. During one of the divorce proceedings, he is on the record saying to the judge, “Your Honor, I am sorry, but why do I always get the raw end of the stick? I really want to see my children. I have spent 2 percent of the time with them since January. I’m not Charles Manson.” That proceeding was in March, just months before Jennifer disappeared. Initially, Jennifer and Fotis were sharing custody of their children, alternating weekends and complying with other orders in the agreement, such as an order to not expose the children to any romantic partners of either parent. When Fotis Dulos violated that order by allowing the children to spend time with his girlfriend, sole custody was transferred to Jennifer. While some supervised visitation with his children was eventually restored, the children were still not to have contact with Traconis.
There was another factor in the Dulous’ rapidly deteriorating situation that might bring new context to these charges. In addition to the emotional toll Fotis Dulos cited after prolonged separation from his children, there was also a mounting pile of debt accumulating to facilitate the costs of waging the custody battle. In addition to legal fees for personal counsel, Fotis was also staring down the barrel of costs for a court-appointed guardian for all five children ($175,000), a child psychaiatrist that wrote the report entered into evidence ($40,000), a family therapist, three psychologists, and court-approved monitors who supervise Fotis’ visits with the children.
Both Dulos and his girlfriend have been released on bond. Norm Pattis is the defense attorney of record for Dulos seems to be playing his cards close to the vest—so close in fact that both he and his client failed to appear at several official proceedings, such as a deposition last month, and another court appearance earlier in June. Pattis commented that the description of the evidence recovered from the trash cans in Hartford “was a very awkward set of facts,” and has yet to reveal his client’s alibi for the time frame in question when his estranged wife disappeared. “There is an explanation, but we’re not going to give it,” Pattis said, going on to say that they would wait until it was time to present the case to a jury before releasing that information to the public. Pattis further incurred public outrage by stating publicly that Jennifer has likely pulled a “Gone Girl,” making reference to the Gillian Flynn novel and film of the same name, in which a wife deliberately stages her own disappearance with the intent to implicate her husband. Author Flynn responded to the theory, “It absolutely sickens me that a work of fiction written by me would be used by Fotis Dulos’ lawyer as a defense and as a hypothetical, sensationalized motive behind Jennifer’s very real and very tragic disappearance.”
(Sarah Galloway, 38, has Down Syndrome and went missing from Tucson, Ariz., on March 21, 2019.)
On March 21, 2019, Sherry Galloway, 66, got out of the shower and, while sitting on her bed, “realized I didn’t hear Sarah,” she said. She ran to the door where Sarah had been sitting on the porch and looked down the road that leads away from the residence Galloway shares with her daughter in the community of Picture Rocks, outside of Tucson, Ariz. “My first thought was that she had just walked further down the road than she was allowed,” says Galloway. “I got in the car and drove down the road. No Sarah. I was freaking out. Within about 10 minutes, we’d called 911.”
Sarah, 38, has Down Syndrome, and is a “happy go lucky” young woman who loves to talk about daily events that occurred at her daytime program for adults with disabilities and has pretend conversations with her friends.
Sarah functions at the level of an 8-year-old child. At age 8, Sarah joined the Galloway family, along with five other siblings, and was officially adopted at age 12.
(Police conducted foot, canine and aerial searches of the desert near the home of Sherry Galloway in the Picture Rocks community approximately 30 minutes from Tucson, Ariz.)
The day Sarah vanished, police and volunteers canvassed the area on foot, by search vehicle, and used K-9 but could not find a trace of Sarah. Police even partnered with the Department of Homeland Security conducting searches by helicopter.
“The police did do their dog search and they say they lost the scent right at the end of the driveway,” said Galloway. “I do believe she was picked up that morning. I don’t know by who, and I can’t figure out why.”
“She’s a vulnerable adult and we’re doing everything we can to locate her,” said spokesman Deputy Daniel Jelineo of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “We’re looking to the public to supply any tips they have.”
According to Galloway, Sarah had been agitated prior to her disappearance. “It was really weird,” she said. “She was fantasizing about someone – an acquaintance – being her husband, telling me that this guy was going to do bad things to me. We didn’t know where that was coming from or what to think,” Galloway added.
“She’s super friendly,” Galloway told People Magazine. “No one is a stranger to her. But she needs supervision to care for herself. She cannot operate a cell phone.”
(Sarah has been missing since March 2019 from Tucson, Ariz., and described as outgoing with a sunny personality.)
According to Galloway, Sarah attends a day program for people with disabilities which she enjoys. She loves to help around the house and loves to color princesses in coloring books like Frozen. She also loves to role play movie and TV characters with her mother.
“I miss having her come in and kiss me in the morning, said Galloway who has spent months waiting in for her daughter. “I miss having her kiss me at night before she went to bed.”
Galloway has spent months replaying the delusions her daughter was experiencing right before she disappeared.
“But she changed. She changed dramatically. She wouldn’t listen to anything I’d say; she wouldn’t get up and go anywhere with me,” Galloway told KGUN 9 TV. “She was running outside doing strange things, throwing rocks at my windows, saying she was going to break my trailer, going up to the car that her and her boyfriend, husband, were going to steal and when you ask her who her husband is, she would name him and I don’t think I’m allowed to name him on camera so, I just keep my thoughts to myself because he had an alibi.”
In the meantime, Pima County Sheriff’s Department says they continue to investigate any and all leads related to Sarah’s disappearance.
Thomas Lauth is a private investigator from Lauth Investigations International based in Indianapolis, Ind. Lauth and has worked missing adult cases for over 25 years and very familiar with the setbacks police may be experiencing with Sarah’s case. “This case is particularly concerning because we are dealing with an individual who has diminished mental capacity, who is also very friendly,” says Lauth. “We also face challenges because the media’s interest has been short-lived unlike other high-profile disappearances of other women Sarah’s age.”
Lauth is concerned the media has not covered the case providing new updates like other nationally known cases of young women in the country. “We need information from the public and that only happens when there is consistent coverage of a case in the public eye,” said Lauth. “Sadly, it is far too common that women with disabilities get less attention than the young, beautiful college student.”
Galloway says she knows her daughter is out there somewhere, and she won’t give up until she is found. “I will find peace, yes, when that kid is back in my arms safe,” says Galloway. “I don’t care if it’s here on earth or if it’s in heaven. I will find peace as long as she’s with me.”
Stats & Facts
According to the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there were 87,608 active missing person cases as of May 31, 2018. That number tends not to fluctuate significantly and approximately 90,000 people is an average count of missing persons on any given day.
When law enforcement takes a missing person report the descriptive information and classification is entered into the NCIC computer database. There are six categories used in NCIC.
As of May 31, 2018, the numbers below reflect active missing person cases in each classification used by law enforcement to describe the circumstances of each missing person’s disappearance.
“When an adult with disabilities goes missing, police and family members face an especially difficult time getting and maintaining public awareness of the case,” says Lauth.
While Amber Alerts are used for endangered children who are reported missing, the Silver Alert is used for seniors who go missing that may have diminished mental capacity, such as someone with Alzheimer’s. However, an alert does not exist for cases like Sarah Galloway.
“Missing adults typically receive less media attention in comparison to children and can be due to age, race, gender and even socioeconomic status,” says Lauth. “Sadly, cases that do receive a lot of media attention tend to be cases where the details of the disappearance are dramatic and sensational and the missing person is young, white, and beautiful.”
Sarah is 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 100 lbs. She has brown hair and brown eyes that are crossed. She has visible overbite and scars on her fingers. The morning she vanished she was wearing a grey sweater, a red T-shirt and black pants.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Sarah Galloway, please call Tucson Police Department at 520-88-CRIME (27463) or 520-351-4900.
Mackenzie “Kenzie” Lueck, 23, is a vanished Monday, June 17, 2019, from Salt Lake City, Utah. She last contacted her family during the early hours of June 17, to let them know her plane had arrived. No one has heard from her since.
During an intensive investigation of Lueck’s disappearance, police made a grisly discovery Friday, June 28.
On June 28, police announced they arrested Ayoola Ajayi, 31, in the kidnapping and murder of Mackenzie Lueck. Photo courtesy of Deseret News.
After scouring a digital trail, Salt Lake City police have arrested Ayoola A. Ajayi, 31, in the kidnapping and murder of Lueck after serving search warrants on his home and finding remains and other articles that had been burned in Ajayi’s backyard.
Mackenzie Lueck vanished after leaving Salt Lake City International Airport on June 17, 2018 after taking a ride from a Lyft driver.
Last week police released surveillance footage at Salt Lake City International Airport, showing Lueck had deplaned at approximately 2:09 a.m.
It does not appear that Lueck talked to anyone while at the airport. The footage shows she was at the airport for approximately 31 minutes, quickly stopping to pick up her luggage before leaving the jetway and getting into a Lyft rideshare at 2:40 a.m.
Salt Lake City Assistant Police Chief Tim Doubt told reporters that Lueck sent a text to her mother at 2:01 a.m. on June 17, shortly after landing in Salt Lake City. Lueck had been returning from California after visiting family for her grandmother’s funeral whom she was very close to.
From the airport, Lueck did not go home but instead took the Lyft to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake City. The park is nestled between restaurants and apartment complexes with a police department up the street. A hot spot for families and community events, the park is large with two playgrounds, basketball court, baseball diamond, and grassy field.
Lueck arrived at the park at 2:59 a.m., and according to the Lyft driver, a person was there waiting for her in a car.
The Lyft driver told police Lueck did not appear to be in any kind of distress when she was dropped off.
Police say they are not aware of Mackenzie Lueck having any mental health issues or a history of going off the grid.
Lueck was a part-time student at the University of Utah in her senior year majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing, attending the college since 2014.
Since her disappearance, Lueck failed to show up at a laboratory where she is employed, missed her mid-term exam and failed to show up for her return scheduled flight to Los Angeles on June 23. There was also no social media activity raising concern. Despite numerous attempts to reach her, Lueck’s phone had been turned off since she vanished.
Lueck’s cat and car were still at her house.
At the time of her disappearance, Ashley Fine, one of Lueck’s friends told the Salt Lake City Tribune that Lueck was a dedicated student and said missing classes is not something she would ever do.
Police had canvassed the park numerous times to get surveillance video and knock on resident’s doors to inquire if anyone saw anything the evening she vanished.
Police had received several tips that Lueck may have been using dating apps and might have been interested in meeting older men and casually dating.
KSL TV reported that two comments to a social media post were sent anonymously to a private investigator and subsequently forwarded to a Utah cold cases podcast creator suggesting Lueck may have been seeking a “sugar daddy” type relationship with older men.
“Try Tinder and be blunt about it,” read one comment appearing to have been authored by an account belonging to a Kenzie Lueck.
The next comment reads, “Mine says ‘I want an SD/SB relationship with a real connection’ if don’t know what an SD/SB is, tell them, sugar daddy and sugar baby. But if they don’t know, they aren’t worth your time. Set (your) age preference to 35+. You’ll have the most luck there. Private message me, if you have more questions! I have experience.”
“I have some experience on seeking arrangements, online only, tinder, and currently have two lol,” the timestamp on the message indicates it was made 12 weeks ago.
The dating app noted the profile says the user is seeking a “mutually beneficial” relationship, from California, going to school in Utah and graduating kinesiology in Spring of 2020, along with what appears to be an image of Lueck.
Police have uncovered several other social media accounts including an Instagram account they continue to investigate.
Thomas Lauth, a private investigator based in Indianapolis, Ind., has worked on missing person cases for 25 years and watching the investigation closely. “One of the first things we do as private investigators is to investigate a missing person’s social and personal life,” said Lauth. “The information that can be extracted from social media accounts can be critical information that police can use to potentially move forward with the investigation and solid charges,” Lauth added. “I am sure even after the arrest they are scouring both Lueck’s and Ajayi’s social media accounts to determine how and when Mackenzie and Ajayi met.”
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown makes announcement they have found the charred remains of Mackenzie Lueck. Photo courtesy of Fox News.
At a press conference announcing the arrest, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said after Lueck disappeared, the suspect originally denied knowing what she looked like but several pictures of her were found on his phone, and the “digital footprint” has continued even after the arrest.
“This is a digital forensic investigation,” Brown said. “This is covering computers, cell phones, IP addresses, URLs and texting apps.”
Investigators also found forensic evidence after searching Ajayi’s home and property police said. As they did, neighbors came forward and told police they saw Ajayi using gasoline to burn something in his backyard on June 17 and 18, Brown said.
“A forensic excavation of the burn area was conducted, which resulted in the finding of several charred items that were consistent with personal items of Mackenzie Lueck,” Brown added.
Police also discovered charred material that was determined to be female tissue consistent with Lueck’s DNA profile. A mattress police were searching for has been located but they did not offer additional details.
After Ajayi’s arrest, Brown contacted Lueck’s parents to give them the news. They were “devastated and heartbroken” by this news Brown Said. “This is one of the most difficult phone calls I’ve ever made,” he said.
According to Ajayi’s LinkedIn profile, he is a former information technology specialist for the US Army and recently worked for Dell and Goldman Sachs. He lived approximately 5 miles from the park where Lueck was last seen.
Brown told reporters they expect to charge Ajayi with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body.