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Authorities recover body of slain 23-year-old college student in Utah canyon

  • SALT LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE VIA AP

    This booking photo provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office shows Ayoola A. Ajayi. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said that Ajayi was being charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and desecration of a body in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck.

  • COURTESY OF KENNEDY STONER VIA AP

    This undated photo provided by Kennedy Stoner shows herself, from left, posing with Mackenzie Lueck and Grace Peterson. Friends and mourners planned to remember Lueck, a Utah college student, Monday night who was missing for nearly two weeks before police arrested a man accused of killing her and burying her charred remains in his backyard.

SALT LAKE CITY >> The body of a slain college student has been recovered in a Utah canyon about 85 miles away from a backyard in Salt Lake City where other remains were found last week, Utah police said today.

The disclosure came at a news conference in the case involving 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck.

Authorities previously said some of her charred remains and personal belongings were found in a suspect’s backyard in Salt Lake City. The body was discovered Wednesday in Logan Canyon about 85 miles north of the city.

“I spoke with Mackenzie’s family this morning. Another devastating call,” Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown said.

“Despite their grief, we hope this will help them find some closure and justice for Mackenzie,” he said.

Lueck disappeared June 17, after she returned from a trip to her hometown of El Segundo, California, for her grandmother’s funeral and took a Lyft from the airport to a park where she met someone.

Police say the last person she communicated with was 31-year-old Ayoola A. Ajayi, who was also in the park.

He’s being held on suspicion of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other crimes. No attorney has been listed for him.

Charges have not been filed.

Police have not discussed a motive for the killing or how Lueck died. It isn’t clear how Ajayi and Lueck knew each other.

Lueck was missing for nearly two weeks before he was arrested.

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person was a member of a sorority and a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing.

Ajayi is an information technology worker who attended Utah State University on and off but never earned a degree and was briefly in the Army National Guard.

He has no formal criminal history, but has been previously investigated on a 2014 rape allegation and was arrested in a stolen-iPad case at Utah State in 2012. The arrest and the expiration of his student visa got him banned from the campus for about three years.

A native of Nigeria, Ajayi is now a U.S. citizen, police and jail records show.

His ex-wife has also told reporters she was afraid of him, and police have investigated a report that he asked a contractor to build a secretive and soundproof room in his home.

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