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Suspect in woman’s death barred from campus, report says

The home of Ayoola Ajayi, where police say they found physical evidence in the murder of Mackenzie Lueck. Photo: Paul Nelson, KSL NewsRadio

By LINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man arrested in the death of a Utah college student whose charred remains were found in his backyard was banned from the campus of Utah State University in 2012, according to documents released on Tuesday.

The school took the step after Ayoola A. Ajayi was arrested on suspicion of having a stolen an iPad, according to university police reports. He had stopped attending class there the year before but continued to sleep on residence hall couches and keep things in a janitor’s closet, police said.

ajayi mackenzie lueck campus suspect

This booking photo provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office shows Ayoola A. Ajayi. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said, Friday, June 28, 2019, that Ajayi was being charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and desecration of a body in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. (Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

University officials barred him from campus the following month, and also informed the consulate of his native Nigeria of the arrest.

Jail documents show Ajayi is now a U.S. citizen. At the time of his 2012 arrest police documents indicate his student visa had expired but he had married a woman in Texas. That marriage ended in a divorce in January, court records show.

U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services declined to provide information about when Ajayi obtained his citizenship, citing privacy protections.

Separate police documents show he was also investigated on a rape allegation in 2014. No charges were filed in either the iPad or rape case.

Ajayi, 31, is being held without bail on suspicion of aggravated murder, kidnapping and other charges in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. Prosecutors said Tuesday they had been granted an extension on filing formal charges until next week. No attorney has been listed for him.

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person who loved spending time with her family and looked forward to a career in medicine or health care. A native of El Segundo, California, Lueck was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing. She was expected to graduate in spring 2020.

mackenzie lueck and friends campus

This undated photo provided by Kennedy Stoner shows herself, from left, posing with Mackenzie Lueck and Grace Peterson. (Courtesy of Kennedy Stoner via AP)

Lueck disappeared June 17 after she returned from a trip home to California for her grandmother’s funeral. Police have said she took a Lyft from the airport to a park north of Salt Lake City, where she met someone in the early morning.

She was reported missing three days later; launching a search that ended with authorities arresting the man they say was the last person to communicate with her: Ajayi. They say his phone location data put him in the same park at the same time Lueck was last seen, police said.

He was arrested after authorities said they found her remains and personal belongings burned and buried in his Salt Lake City backyard.

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

In the 2014 rape allegation, police said a co-worker in the northern Utah city of Logan opted not to pursue formal charges. She told police the contact began consensually, but when she wanted to stop he refused and had sex with her anyway.

Police have not discussed a motive for the killing or how Lueck died. It isn’t clear how Ajayi and Lueck knew each other. Police have also said they are investigating a report from a construction contractor who said Ajayi approached him in April about building a secretive and soundproof room in his home.