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Tech Worker Charged With Murder In Death Of Utah College Student

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 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A tech worker was charged Wednesday with murder and kidnapping in the death of a Utah college student whose body was found in a wooded area with her arms bound behind her  Prosecutors said Ayoola A Ajayi, 31, was the last person Mackenzie Lueck communicated with before she disappeared on June 17  She died of blunt force trauma to the head, and her body was found with her arms bound with zip ties and ropes, District Attorney Sim Gill said while announcing the charges  He declined to discuss a motive or the nature of the connection between Lueck and Ajayi  Gill became emotional as he described the Lueck family’s reaction to the charges    “They asked me to express on their behalf the generosity of so many strangers and friends,” he said “They are genuinely appreciative and moved by the outpouring of love and compassion ”  Lueck disappeared shortly after she returned from a trip to her California hometown for the funeral of her grandmother and took a Lyft from the airport to a park  She met Ajayi there, apparently willingly, but a short time later her phone was turned off “and never powered back on,” Gill said  Police later found the charred phone in the backyard of Ajayi’s home in Salt Lake City, along with a bone, muscle tissue and part of Lueck’s scalp, Gill said  A neighbor reported a fire and a “horrible smell” coming from the yard on the day Lueck disappeared, Gill said  Her body was later discovered in a shallow grave in Logan Canyon, 85 miles (138 kilometers) from Salt Lake City The site is near Utah State University, where Ajayi had attended classes

Phone data puts him at the canyon a week after Lueck disappeared, Gill said  Ajayi was arrested June 28 during the wide-ranging search for the 23-year-old University of Utah student that lasted nearly two weeks Prosecutors did not strike a deal with Ajayi to find her, Gill said  Ajayi was charged with one count each of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body A court appearance was set for Monday  An attorney listed for Ajayi did not immediately return a message seeking comment  The charges make Ajayi eligible for the death penalty, but Gill did not say whether prosecutors would pursue it  Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person She was a member of a sorority and a part-time senior at the university studying kinesiology and pre-nursing  Ajayi is an information technology worker who had stints with high-profile companies and was briefly in the Army National Guard  He has no formal criminal history but was investigated in a 2014 rape allegation and was arrested in a stolen iPad case at Utah State University in 2012 The arrest and the expiration of his student visa led to him being banned from the campus for about three years  A native of Nigeria, Ajayi is now a US

citizen, records show Body Of Slain Utah State University Student Recovered, Police Say Download REAL LIFE REAL NEWS REAL VOICES Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard Join HuffPost Plus

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