On Monday, the University of Utah community came together to mourn the loss of one of their own. Mackenzie Lueck, known to her friends as 'Kenzie', was recently murdered. The 23-year-old nursing student and California native was known for her happy, bubbly personality and her caring nature. She had a bright future ahead of her, a future that was unfortunately stolen away in a horrific turn of events.
Even in the darkness and heartbreak they are experiencing, Lueck's loved ones are focused on the ball of light that was their dear friend and family member. In a touching vigil, the University of Utah took the time to remember the difference she made in their lives, per USA Today. Among those gathered were students, staff, family, friends and members of the nearby community.
Last month, Lueck took a trip home to California to visit family. When she arrived back in Utah on June 17, she sent her parents a text letting them know her plane had landed safely. She then called for a Lyft to pick her up and take her to a nearby park. It was there that law enforcement believes she stopped to speak to someone in a parked car. She was never seen alive again.
Last Friday, police arrested Ayoola Ajayi, a 31-year-old man. He has been charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body. Prior to his arrest, he was caught trying to burn something in his backyard. Lueck's DNA was later found in the charred area.
Kennedy Stoner was one of Lueck's sorority sisters at Alpha Chi Omega. When speaking publicly at the vigil, she referenced the tragic and terrifying way that her friend had died.
"She's almost a mother to me. Everyone who knew Kenzie knew how fun she was to be around. She was a people pleaser. It breaks my heart knowing she died alone in such a scary place."Drew Crawford recently graduated from the University of Utah. He acknowledged how tragic it is that Lueck will never get to experience walking across the stage on her graduation day.
"She doesn't get to graduate, or experience life after college. I couldn't imagine this happening to me or my family."A group of Lueck's friends is planning to launch a non-profit organization to honor the fallen friend. It will be called 'Kenzie's Voice' and will provide resources to those who have undergone trauma.