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.
(Kiera Bergman has been missing from Glendale, Ariz., since August 4, 2018.)
Kiera Lanae Bergman, 19, was last seen by her best friend and roommate, Destiny Hall-Chand. The two young women worked together at a Glendale furniture store, just west of Phoenix, Arizona.
Hall-Chand told the Arizona Republic that she and Bergman were at work on August 4, when Bergman became upset and asked to leave work early. According to Hall-Chand, Bergman’s ex-boyfriend picked her up.
When Hall-Chand returned to their Glendale apartment near 51st Avenue and Thunderbird Road, Bergman was not there but her car, keys, wallet, and purse were.
Hall-Chand said she sent numerous texts to Bergman and eventually received a response she deemed strange.
After Bergman failed to come home or show up for work the following day, Hall-Chand called the Phoenix Police Department and filed a missing person report.
“She was saying that she was going to go out with some guy she met at the store a couple days ago, which is something that’s not like her,” Hall-Chand told KPHO-TV. “That’s not something she would do.”
Bergman reportedly told Hall-Chand she would contact her as soon as she got a phone charger.
That was 14 days ago.
(Kiera Bergman was last known to be at her Glendale, Ariz., apartment on August 4, 2018.)
“Her family is concerned for her welfare,” said Phoenix Police in a press release.
Bergman moved from San Diego to Glendale in March, to be with her boyfriend. Family members told the Arizona Republic he and Bergman had split up before her disappearance.
Kiersten Bragg, Bergman’s mother left her home in San Diego to travel to Phoenix to search for her daughter.
Bragg told Good Morning America it wasn’t like Bergman to be out of contact, adding she last spoke to her daughter via text on July 30, but she wasn’t “her normal, happy self.”
“If we knew something, our minds wouldn’t be racing and thinking of all the different possibilities.”
In addition, Bragg told ABC News that prior to the breakup with Bergman’s ex-boyfriend, they frequently fought and her daughter did not seem as happy as she was before. After the couple split, Bergman moved into an apartment with Hall-Chand.
AZ Central reported the boyfriend says he has been questioned regarding Bergman’s disappearance.
Those concerned for Bergman’s safety have more questions than answers.
Jon-Christopher Clark, 23, told the HuffPost “I didn’t want to do anything that would give an indication I was hiding anything but also didn’t want anything on the record that would have them say I was doing anything or had any part in this.”
“I told them I would not like a lie detector test because, “One, they are not admissible in court, and two, whatever you guys gather from that is basically your interpretation on my feelings,’” Clark continued. “So, I didn’t want [investigators] to pretty much gather [their] conclusions off of something that is not guaranteed.”
Investigators picked Clark up at a hotel last Monday and transported him to the police station for questioning.
Clark has been dating Bergman since December of last year and has
(Jon-Christopher Clark was dating Keira Bergman since December 2017.)
consistently denied he was involved in Bergman’s disappearance. Police have not named Clark as a suspect.
While it is common for police to ask the significant other of a missing person to come to the station to talk, Clark claims he wasn’t given the opportunity to voluntarily come in as he alleges 20 tactical officers surrounded him while checking out of a local hotel.
“They handcuffed me, put me in the back of a car and. When we got to the interview room [they] handcuffed me to a table the entire time,” Clark said.
Chris Bragg, Bergman’s father is concerned something tragic has happened to his daughter.
Bragg was told Hall-Chand and Clark called police together, but Clark left before police arrived which he thinks strange. Bragg acknowledges he left before police arrived, saying he was staying with a friend and was unable to connect with Phoenix Police detectives until they picked him up at the hotel on Monday.
“They served a search warrant on my phone, car, the pace I was staying at and talked to all my friends and family,” Clark said. “DNA was one of the stipulations of the court order, so they took my DNA — did swabs, all kinds of fingerprints, my wrists, hands, everything — and took numerous pictures of me and my tattoos.”
Clark claims to have fully cooperated with investigators, except for voluntarily agreeing to take the polygraph.
Bragg took a tour of his daughter’s apartment last week and noted his daughter’s bedroom was the only room in the house that evidence had been removed by crime scene technicians.
“The bedding was stripped off the bed, taken as evidence, but aside from that, it looked like a college kid’s apartment,” Bragg went on to tell HuffPost. “It didn’t have a whole lot of furniture and wasn’t really nice.”
The scariest part of this whole situation is Bragg claims detectives told him they had found his daughter’s personal items in a very strange place in the home.
“Her ID for work, her purse with her wallet, ID and credit cards, was found thrown in the back of her closet,” Bragg said. “That is strange. What woman throws her purse in the back of her closet?”
When HuffPost called Phoenix Police, they would not confirm or deny Bergman’s personal belongings were found in a closet.
Bragg calls his daughter’s disappearance devastating.
“We just want her back, Bragg said. “Please just call the police. A piece of our heart is missing, and without it we don’t feel whole. It’s heartbreaking. Pleas somebody saqy something.”
(Kiera Bergman’s mother and family old vigil outside her daughter’s apartment in Glendale, Ariz.)
At a vigil family and friends held at Bergman’s apartment on the evening of August 11, her friend Hall-Chand told KPHO TV and KTVK TV that she doesn’t know what to think about her best friend’s disappearance. “I don’t know. I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to believe, I don’t know,” she said. “It’s just, I know there’s something wrong. I’m just hoping she’ll come home, and everything will be OK.”
Phoenix Police Public Information Sergeant Vincent Lewis told KNBC that investigators are stymied in their search for the missing young woman and there is no information obtained through their investigation that determines she is a victim of foul play.’
However, Bergman’s family believe something horrible has happened to her.
“She’s a beautiful, sweet, super talented young woman,” says Bragg when describing her missing daughter. “She’s caring, she’s very strong-minded, she’s just a sweet loving person.”
Bergman’s mother told the Arizona Republic she had a message for her daughter. “Wherever you are, if you can hear this, if you can see or hear it, just know we are doing everything we can and fighting so hard to find you.”
(Flowers sit outside Keira Bergman’s Glendale Ariz., apartment, placed there by family and friends.)
Keira Bergman’s disappearance has caught the attention of national news and appeared in USA Today and Newsweek and one private investigator that has worked many missing person cases in the state of Arizona.
Thomas Lauth. Founder of Lauth Missing Persons has worked over twenty-years on missing person cases and considered an expert in the field. The family and friends give various and multiple accounts of arguments between Kiera and Jon Christopher Clark, and it would seem the hostility grew worse around the time of Kiera’s disappearance. Mr. Clarks excuse for not submitting to the polygraph is not supportive of someone wanting to clear his name and allow investigators to focus their efforts elsewhere. Mr. Clark’s behavior following Kiera’s disappearance is highly suspicious and he should submit to a polygraph.
In the United States, as of May 31, 2018, there were 87,608 actives missing person cases in the National Crime Information Center at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There were 2,286 listed as missing within the state of Arizona.
Anyone with information should call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-534-2121.
For more information on missing persons investigations, please visit our website.