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Contractor says suspect in killing of Utah college student asked him to build a secret room

Posted at 11:32 AM, Jun 30, 2019

A contractor says the man suspected of killing a University of Utah student who vanished nearly two weeks ago had asked him to build a secret soundproof room in his home.

Ayoola Ajayi, 31, was arrested Friday in connection with the disappearance of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. He's expected to be charged with her murder and several other counts including, aggravated kidnapping, police have said.

The contractor, Brian Wolf, told CNN he met with Ajayi at his Salt Lake City home for a consult on some drywall work. Ajayi's house is five miles from the park where the college student was last seen.

When Wolf arrived, he said, Ajayi asked him to build a room with a secret door before his Mormon girlfriend arrived in town.

Wolf said Ajayi wanted to install a thumb scanner on the room's entrance so he would be the only person allowed to enter. The room had to be soundproof with a few hooks installed up high, Wolf said.

Ajayi told Wolf he wanted to listen to music as loud as he could and wanted to install a wine-rack on the hooks, Wolf recalled.

The contractor, who had been referred by a plumber, said he became nervous by Ajayi's requests.

"People ask me to build all kind of stuff all the time, but nothing like this. This was just way too weird," Wolf said.

He ended up declining the job.

"I just had a gut feeling it wasn't a job I wanted to do," Wolf said.

"The pieces just didn't add up in my head. Obviously, I'm happy I had nothing to do with it."

The visit took place a few months ago, CNN affiliate KSTU reported.

Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said investigators have spoken with Wolf and were looking into his claims.

Police are following up on hundreds of leads on the case, he said.

Cellphone photos and a rideshare led police to suspect

Ajayi was arrested after police discovered he had been in the park where Lueck was last seen on June 17.

He was in the park around the time Lueck's phone stopped receiving data or location services, police said.

After Lueck disappeared, the suspect originally denied knowing what she looked like, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said. But several pictures of her were found on his phone, and the "digital footprint" continued even after the arrest, police said.

An Instagram account that Lueck's sorority sister confirmed belongs to the missing student followed another user on or about Wednesday, CNN verified.

Brown confirmed that investigators are looking into the activity on the account.

"This is a digital forensic investigation," he said. "This is covering computers, cellphones, IP addresses, URLs, texting apps."

But the investigation is not just limited to digital footprints.

When investigators searched Ajayi's home and property earlier this week, they found charred material that was determined to be female human tissue consistent with Lueck's DNA profile, Brown said.

Police say she met suspect at a park

Police said Lueck vanished last week, just a few hours after she landed at Salt Lake City International Airport.

She texted her parents at 1 a.m. and was seen on airport surveillance walking through baggage claim before taking Lyft to Hatch Park.

"Mackenzie was met at Hatch Park by an individual in a vehicle. The Lyft driver left Mackenzie at the park with that person and stated that Mackenzie did not appear to be in any type of distress," Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Tim Doubt told reporters this week.

Police believe Lueck left the park with Ajayi as all communications with Lueck's phone ceased around 3 a.m. that morning.

Phone records showed her last communication was with Ajayi, Brown said.