Mackenzie Lueck was a 23-year-old nursing student at the University of Utah. She was a hard-working student with high hopes for the future. However, that future was taken away from her when she was brutally murdered last month. Lueck was returning home from a trip to California for her grandmother’s funeral. She called for a Lyft to pick her up at the airport. She then asked to be driven to a nearby park where she met up with 31-year-old tech worker and former member of the Army National Guard Ayoola A. Ajayi. Law enforcement says that Ajayi ruthlessly murdered the college student and then attempted to burn her body before being caught in the act, according to Fox News.
On Monday, Ajayi made his first courtroom appearance by video from jail. He sat alongside his lawyer, looking stoic and showing no emotion. The only time he uttered a single word was when the judge told him good morning.
“Good morning sir,” he responded.
Ajayi has been charged with both kidnapping and murder. The brief hearing held on Monday was set to determine his next court date. Lueck reportedly died of blunt force trauma to the head. Her body was later found in a canyon not far from Ajayi’s home. Her arms were tied behind her back.
Lueck’s heartbroken friends sat together in the courtroom on Monday. They held hands in solidarity as her alleged killer’s face showed up on the screen. Even though they were prepared to see him, it still came as a shock.
One of Lueck’s best friends, Ashley Fine, told reporters that she doesn’t want to say Ajayi’s name because she doesn’t believe he deserves the recognition, according to ABC 4 News.
“We just immediately lost our breath. I think that we were holding hands and just…I refuse to say this person’s name. This is probably the last time I’ll give him any sort of attention because I don’t think he deserves any attention.”
Police have not yet revealed whether or not they know if Ajayi had a motive for killing the young student or if the murder was planned. They do know that minutes after Lueck came in contact with the suspect, her phone shut off and did not turn back on. This is also not the first time that Ajayi has been tangled up with the law. He was investigated for an alleged rape in 2014 and was arrested in connection to a theft in 2012.