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Evidence photos, interrogation videos released in Mackenzie Lueck murder investigation

Posted at 10:42 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 00:47:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Newly released pictures and video are giving a detailed look inside the investigation into the murder of University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck.

The man who killed her, Ayoola Ajayi, is now in prison.

More than 1,000 pictures, surveillance videos, body camera videos, drone videos, phone call audio, documents, screen shots and an hours-long interrogation of Ajayi were included in the release by Salt Lake City Police.

The files establish a clearer timeline and outline exactly what evidence investigators found in Ajayi's home and on his property.

Two days before serving a search warrant on his home in June of 2019, a video shows police questioning Ajayi in an interview room at the police station.

Ajayi claimed he went against his lawyer's wishes and showed up to talk with officers because he said, "I knew I could help."

Related article: Ajayi sentenced to life in prison for murder of MacKenzie Lueck

He admits that he had messaged with Lueck through an online dating site, but maintained that she blocked him and their communication ended. He shows police a screen shot of their messages.

"She stopped responding once I sent out my pictures," he said. "I thought maybe she just doesn't want my type of race, so I just stopped responding to her."

In the conversation, Ajayi seems positive and expresses his willingness to cooperate.

Two days later on June 26, Salt Lake City Police served the search warrant on Ajayi's home. They take him in for questioning. In a 9-hour long video, Ajayi upholds he only exchanged a couple of messages with Lueck and never met her in person.

He tells detectives that he was at home with two men who were renting rooms through his AirBnB in the basement at the time she went missing.

Ayoola Ajayi: "The part that I don't know is how can that happen if I didn't leave the house?"

Detective: "I'm telling you, you did. You already told me that you didn't remember and that it's a possibility, I'm telling you that yes it's a thing that happened."

Detective: "What kind of car do you drive?"

Ayoola Ajayi: "I drive a Kia Ultima."

Detective: "Yeah, you do. That's the other part. It's your car. K? I'm telling you..."

Ayoola Ajayi: "It's not my car."

Detective: "We have had a week and a half now to prepare and we have been very busy, because I care about MacKenzie."

Ayoola Ajayi: "I care..."

Detective: "I think you did care about her, I agree. And I know that there's more for you to tell me, and you're holding back and I don't understand why."

Several body camera videos show officers pouring over Ajayi's home, backyard, and garage.

Hundreds of photographs are of evidence markers all over the house and yard. Police took pictures of several items of clothing, some of which appeared to have bleach stains or dirt stains. They take pictures of Ajayi's bathroom sink under blacklight, where splatters show up in the light.

They zero in on a burn pit in Ajayi's backyard. Neighbors told Fox 13 at the time they remembered Ajayi lighting the fire after Lueck disappeared, and that it emitted a strong odor unlike anything they ever smelled.

Photos showed charred pieces of fabric found in the yard and burn pit. Other pictures show a burnt Coach purse and MacKenzie's wallet with her ID visible also burnt.

Pictures of Ajayi's car show stains across the backseat, as well as dirt all over the floor in front of the driver seat.
Along the Jordan River, photos depict a number of female clothing items pulled from out of the water and off the riverbanks. There are pictures of Lueck's University of Utah ID which appeared to have been found on the riverbank near the clothing.

Police piece together surveillance footage, from when MacKenzie landed at the Salt Lake International Airport and got into a Lyft on June 17, to when Ajayi's car and the Lyft driver headed in the same direction near the park in North Salt Lake where Ajayi met Lueck.

According to court records and what Ajayi told police, the two met through the site Seeking Arrangement. It appeared that, up until that point, the two had never met in person.

Related article: Friends push back against victim shaming in MacKenzue Lueck murder

Detectives tell Ajayi that they've collected data and records placing him at the park at the same moment she disappeared. He wouldn't directly answer questions, even when asked point-blank what happened.

Detective: "AJ, I just told you that your phone records and the location put you up at the meet. Do you think, honestly, and expect me to believe, that you ended that conversation and somehow you and her and her location end up in the exact same spot?"

Ayoola Ajayi: "Oh, I'm not doubting you. If I see that too if I'm in your case, I would be asking myself what you are asking me right now."

Detective: "It's not a miraculous question."

Ayoola Ajayi: "Yeah, I agree with you. Stuff doesn't just happen."

Detective: "No."

Ayoola Ajayi: "Yes, I agree with you."

Detective: "I'm telling you to explain that. And so far, you have not."

Ayoola Ajayi: "How do I explain something I don't know?"

Ajayi talks in circles for hours, and at one point begins to shake and says he is cold. Detectives give him a blanket and he wraps himself up, continuing to deny he ever saw Lueck in person.

Eventually police leave him alone in the room for a few hours, before returning to take his fingerprints and release him the next morning.

According to past court documents, police used Ajayi's phone data to track a trip he made to Logan Canyon after Lueck went missing.

Drone video shows the exact spot in the canyon where investigators found Lueck's charred remains.

Related article: 'MacKenzie's Voice': sorority sisters and friends set up nonprofit

Even with Ajayi not willing to say anything, it's clear from the hundreds of pictures and videos that the evidence spoke for itself.

Ajayi later pleaded guilty to murdering Lueck and is now serving life in prison.