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Missing University of Utah student met with unknown person at North Salt Lake park

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Updated - Jun 24th, 2019 @ 10:17pm | Posted - Jun 24th, 2019 @ 2:01pm


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NORTH SALT LAKE — Missing University of Utah student Mackenzie "Kenzie" Lueck was last seen making contact with a person in a vehicle at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake about 3 a.m. on June 17, according to Salt Lake City police.

But investigators still don't know if Lueck is in trouble or if she is purposely trying to not be found.

Salt Lake police released a few more details Monday afternoon about the disappearance of the 23-year-old U. student, who has been missing for a week. The disappearance has captured national attention.

Lueck is a senior at the U. from El Segundo, California, who is enrolled part time. She is majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing and minoring in health, and has been enrolled at the school since 2014.

She arrived at the Salt Lake City International Airport about 1:35 a.m. on June 17 after attending a family funeral in California, said Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Tim Doubt. She got in a Lyft about 2:40 a.m. that drove her to Hatch Park, 50 Center St., in North Salt Lake, he said. She arrived at the park just before 3 a.m.

Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said investigators have interviewed both the Lyft driver and the company and say their accounts of what happened corroborate with the evidence collected. The driver was cooperative with detectives, he said, and is "not a suspect at this time."

According to the Lyft driver, "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," Doubt said.

Police have not verified a make or model of the vehicle or have a good description of the driver, according to Doubt. He declined to say whether Lueck gave any indication to the Lyft driver who she was meeting or why she was meeting that person at a park at 3 a.m.

Lueck lives in an apartment in Salt Lake City off the U. campus, Doubt said.

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Family and friends have not heard from Lueck for seven days, and there has been no activity on either her social media accounts or bank cards, he said. Likewise, police believe her cellphone has been turned off, Doubt said. Lueck has already missed a midterm test, and she was supposed to fly back to California on Sunday, Doubt said. Police have confirmed she was not on her flight.

Shearer said there is also no evidence that a crime has been committed.

"We've still not found any evidence that she is in danger, that she has been harmed, specifically," he said.

Still, the fact that Lueck has seemingly "dropped off the grid" without a trace has police very concerned, Doubt said. He said police have the same questions as the public, namely: Who did she meet at the park? Does she have a cellphone her friends and family don't know about? Does she have social media accounts her friends and family don't know about? And has anyone been in contact with her over the past week?

Police have listed Lueck as "missing" on a national database, so if an officer comes across her anywhere for any reason, the officer will know people are looking for her.

Doubt said there is also the possibility that Lueck does not want to be found, which is her right. But on Monday, the assistant chief made a plea directly to Lueck to contact someone, even if she doesn't want anyone to know where she is.

"Mackenzie, we are asking you to please reach out to either the Salt Lake City Police Department or a law enforcement agency (where) you are at. We just want to make sure you are safe and we will respect your wishes,” Doubt said.

Doubt said the Lueck case is a very high priority for the department, and a "signficant" number of the department's resources were being used to look for her.

University of Utah spokesman Chris Nelson released a brief statement Monday saying the university was cooperating with police.

"The university’s dean of students has spoken with Mackenzie’s family to offer support and to express the campus community’s shared hope for her safe return," he said.

Because she lived off campus, her disappearance did not involve the school's Department of Public Safety. There is no record of Lueck ever making contact with campus police for any reason, he said.

Both university officials and Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown have been in direct contact with Lueck's parents.

Because the case continues to gain widespread attention, Salt Lake police set up a special tip line on Monday just for the Lueck case. Anyone with information on Lueck or who may have seen her is asked to call 801-799-4420, and reference her name or case 19-111129.

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