The statement by police that a Salt Lake City man was arrested on suspicion of killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck has sparked stress from her sorority sisters in Utah as well as her family in California.
Lueck had been missing for days, but family and friends held out hope that she was still alive.
Authorities now declare a man killed her and burned her body in his backyard.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown announced on Friday that Ayoola Ajayi, 31, was being charged into jail on suspicion of provoked murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and defilement of a body. The Lueck family released a statement expressing appreciation for law enforcement’s efforts and asking for privacy.
“The Lueck family would like to express their gratitude for the effort put forth by the Salt Lake City Police Department and partnering agencies who assisted, as well as all of the people that provided tips on this case,” the statement declared, “They are also grateful to her community, her friends, and people around the nation who have supported this investigation. The family will not be taking any questions and no interviews will be held. Interrogations should be directed to the Salt Lake City Police Department.”
Friends described her as an energetic and caring person who was always there for them.
“I will remember her as a ball of light. That’s what she was. A blond bubble of happiness,” Michelle Galison, a sorority sister told KSL-TV. “I’ll never forget seeing her face when she became a part of our little family.”
“She’s like a nurturer,” Kennedy Stoner, a sorority sister, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “She’s almost a mother to me.”
The sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, stated on Facebook that it is “grieving the loss of Mackenzie Lueck and we send our deepest sympathies and prayers to her family during this incredibly difficult time. We hope that our Alpha Chi Omega sisters who knew Mackenzie best can find peace and comfort as they reflect on the lasting impact she made on the lives of her family members, friends, and sisters.”