Ayoola ‘AJ’ Ajayi, the man police believe murdered Mackenzie Lueck and then burned her body in a backyard, wrote a murder novel last year in which two of the characters suffer an eerily similar fate to the Utah University student.
The 31-year-old Former Army IT specialist-come-author self-published the book, titled Forge Identity, which tells the story of a 15-year-old boy originally from Nigeria who witnesses two gruesome murders in which both of the victims are burned alive.
Ajayi, who himself was born in Nigeria, set up a Facebook page, a website and even listed the book for sale on Amazon, claiming on its front cover to be ‘inspired from true events’.
In one excerpt, the protagonist witnesses a man ‘with a tire around him on fire. His body… started to turn into a hard-dried barbecued thing.
‘His skin had gone a terrible color. He saw his hair burning off as he screamed for help.’
Ajayi was pictured being taken into custody by a number of armed SWAT officers outside his 1028 S West Temple home on Friday morning.
Shortly afterwards, investigators charged him with the murder of Lueck, 23, who disappeared on June 17 after taking a Lyft from the airport to a park located miles away from her apartment in Salt Lake.
In the hours since, Amazon has removed the book from it website after a number users asked for it be taken down because it was ‘written by a murder’ who shouldn’t be able to profit from the young girl’s death.
Investigators conducted a 19-hour search of a Ajayi’s home in a middle class neighborhood on Salt Lake City’s west side in the early hours of Thursday, identifying him as a ‘person of interest’.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown revealed in a press conference on Friday afternoon that an excavation of the property’s garden discovered burned ‘female human tissue’, which forensic experts later matched to Lueck’s DNA.
A number of the 23-year-old’s personal possessions were also found among the charred remains.
According to Brown, Teresa Draheim, a neighbor of Ajayi’s, had observed the suspect burning something in his backyard with gasoline on June 17 and 18, just hours after Lueck was last seen alive.
Police confirmed that Lueck’s remains and personal items were found in a ‘burned area’ in the back yard.
Ajayi was taken into custody at 9.20am on Friday morning, where he was later charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and desecration of a body.
Cell phone records and social media activity proved to be central in leading to the 31-year-old’s arrest, police said.
Police say he met with Lueck at Hatch Park in the early hours of the morning on June 17, believing the pair to have first made contact online, referencing an ‘online profile’ but failed to specify which site.
Lueck’s last communications were ‘with the arrested person’, Chief Brown said. The defendant and the victim’s phones both pinged in Hatch Park at 3am ‘within a minute’ of one another.
Police say Lueck’s phone shared no further data or locations services from that moment onwards.
After Ajayi was named as a person of interest in the case, he told police he had contacted Lueck but claimed he didn’t know what she looked like and had never met her.
But several pictures of the college senior were found on his phone, including a screenshot of the aforementioned ‘online profile’.
Police added that the ‘digital footprint’ has continued even after his arrest, though further details were not issued.
Mysterious activity was also spotted on Lueck’s social media on Wednesday, nine days after she was supposedly murdered by Ajayi.
Friends of the then-missing student spotted that her personal Instagram account followed another user called ‘fatherless’ and reported the finding to police.
The account, which claims to be for people with ‘daddy issues’ appears to collect very sexual photos and memes and invite its 47,000 followers to share stories and tag friends.
Officers say they’re investigating the mysterious activity,
‘This is a digital forensic investigation,’ Brown said in the press conference Friday. ‘This is covering computers, cell phones, IP addresses, URLs, texting apps.’
Chief Brown described the moment he informed Lueck’s family that her remains had been found as the ‘hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make.’
He described the victim’s family as being ‘heartbroken and devastated’, passing on their messages of thanks to the members of the Salt Lake City Police Department and members of the public who have helped with their search for MacKenzie.
‘We will continue to look into this situation to see if [Ajayi] had any help, or if he acted alone,’ Brown concluded.
Less than an hour before his arrest, local contractor Brian Wolf revealed to Fox News that Ajayi reached out to him in April and asked him to build a ‘soundproof’ room in the basement of his home with hooks on the wall.
Ajayi first proposed that Wolf build a ‘secret door’ to a space that was about four feet by nine feet, the contractor told Fox News.
But Wolf says that Ajayi ‘slowly started sidestepping into more stuff, like wanting a thumb lock on it with a fingerprint lock, and soundproofing it, and putting hooks in the concrete – it was just weird what he was asking me.’
Pressed for an explanation, Ajayi said he wanted a secret room for alcohol to hide it from his Mormon girlfriend, and soundproof so that he could sit inside and listen to music, according to Wolf.
‘He just said that his girlfriend was coming into town and needed to get it done before she got there because she was a Mormon girl. He did say she was a white girl,’ Wolf said.
Wolf said he was ‘weirded out’ by the job offer, telling the man he was too busy to undertake the project.
Ajayi was employed by the Army as an Information Technology Specialist for nearly two years before leaving in June 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He currently works at Dell as a Senior Technical Support Analyst and has done for the past 10 months.
Born in Nigeria, Ajayi appears to have briefly explored a career in modelling, according to a profile on ModelMangement.com.
Listing his height as six-foot-one, Ajayi goes on to describe himself as ‘tall, buffed, funny,’ as well as ‘a victim, Romantic, Violent and character actor [sic].’