A Nigerian national who first arrived in the United States on a student visa has been charged with the murder of 23-year-old University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck.
Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, a 31-year-old native-born Nigerian, was formally charged this week for the murder of Mackenzie Lueck in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 17th after she had just come back from California where she had traveled to attend her grandmother’s funeral.
Following her arrival from the Salt Lake City Airport, Lueck was reportedly last seen after she had been dropped off at Hatch Park at 3 AM by a Lyft driver. When the Lyft driver had been cleared from any involvement in the disappearance and murder of Lueck, police were immediately drawn to Ajayi after discovering phone and social media messages between him and Lueck. On top of that, the two were at the same park at the time of Lueck’s disappearance.
Upon questioning Ajayi, Police suspicions were further aroused when he initially denied knowing Lueck.
After having been missing for 11 days, the charred remains of the 23-year-old university student were discovered by Salt Lake City police last week following a search of Ayoola Ajayi’s residence. Ajayi was subsequently charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, and desecration of a body.
According to reports, neighbors affirmed that they had witnessed the 31-year-old Nigerian burning something in his backyard on June 17th and June 18th.
Law enforcement officials have since confirmed to journalists that Ajayi first entered the United States from Nigeria in 2009, on a student visa. The visa type he received is known by immigration officials as the F-1 visa. Officials from the University of Utah have told members of the media that he attended the university from 2009 to 2017, but never graduated with a degree.
In 2014, after remaining in the country on the F-1 visa and marrying an American citizen, Ajayi modified his immigration status to become a “lawful permanent resident,” or a green card holder.
After Ayayi had adjusted his status as an immigrant, he then applied to become a naturalized citizen of the U.S. by claiming he had served in the American military in 2015. However, records indicate that the Nigerian immigrant never provided any evidence to support the assertion that he had served in the military.
According to a report from the Salt Lake Tribune, Ajayi had no previous criminal history but was investigated by police in 2014 for a rape accusation against him. Police, however, discontinued the investigation after the alleged victim decided she didn’t want to press charges.
Ajayi has been ordered by a judge to be held without bail while he awaits his trial.