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SALT LAKE CITY — Ayoola Ajayi, the man accused of killing 23-year-old University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, has been confirmed as a legal resident of the United States by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
Much of a person’s immigration status is considered private information, and as such, it is not clear whether Ajayi was a resident through a green card or not, according to KSL TV. Over the years since Ajayi traveled to Utah from his home in Nigeria, Africa, his legal resident status has at times come under question.
Ajayi moved to Utah in the fall of 2009 to take classes at Utah State University on a student visa, according to KSL TV. Shortly after his arrival, in October 2009, Ajayi was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the help of Ogden missionary Logan Dill.
Dill and his mission companion were on the Utah State campus when they met Ajayi, according to KSL TV. He appeared “very interested” in the faith.
“His dad in Nigeria, before he came here, had a dream that his son would find a church while he was here in Utah,” Dill told KSL TV. “So, it was just a really cool experience. Things moved very quickly. He just soaked everything up. He found some instant friends, you know. People were very warm and welcoming, and accepted him right away.”
Dill said he knew Ajayi as “joy” and added that he made everyone feel comfortable. “He was a really happy person,” Dill added. “He joked all the time.”
By the time spring of 2011 rolled around, however, Ajayi left Utah State, according to KSL TV. In June of 2011, he married Tenisha Jenkins Ajayi in Dallas, Texas.
She alleged that she has not lived with Ajayi for years, KSL TV reported. Dill was unaware of Ajayi’s marriage and added that, though they kept in contact on Facebook when Dill got home from his mission, Ajayi never posted anything about a wedding or marriage as far as he was aware.
“I do think he wanted to get married and I think that was important to him and so, he would flirt a lot,” Dill told KSL TV.
The department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not release specifics of its vetting process for approving newly-married immigrants as citizens, but they did tell KSL TV that there’s an application process to become a "permanent resident" regardless of whether the immigrating individual married a U.S. citizen. They also check for marriage fraud, but it is unknown if they did so in Ajayi’s case.
In May of 2012, Ajayi was not a student but was found on-campus at Utah State University by the school’s police department, according to KSL TV. They gave him a warning for trespassing, and the report indicated that Ajayi may have been homeless.
Utah State University police then contacted ICE to report Ajayi for violating his student visa as he wasn’t taking any classes at the time, KSL TV said. A few months later, in July 2012, Ajayi was arrested by university police on investigation of receiving stolen property, a class B misdemeanor, and he was banned from the school as a result.
In August of 2012, Utah State University’s associate vice president for student services wrote a letter to Ajayi where they indicated they had been made aware that he was in the country “illegally,” according to KSL TV.
Ajayi’s immigration status was unknown from 2013-2014, and Dill simultaneously lost touch with him, KSL TV reported. Dill explained that “I knew that he was still a participating member of the church. Around 2013 (it) seemed like he started to make other decisions in his life.”
During this time, Ajayi was living in a North Logan apartment, North Park Police Department reported. He lived there from 2013 until 2015.
Ajayi later lived in a North Salt Lake apartment across the street from Hatch Park, and he and his two roommates were evicted in 2016 for failing to pay rent. Ajayi was later ordered to pay $1,097 to Ridgeview Property Management 2017 for a Davis County eviction case, according to court records.
In 2014, North Park police investigated Ajayi for a rape and sex offense, according to a statement released by the department. The adult woman involved in the incident did not want to press charges, and as a result, none were filed.
Ajayi returned to Utah State as a student in the spring of 2015, according to KSL TV. University officials did not specify what type of visa or other documentation he had at that time, but they said he reapplied to the school with a changed immigration status and was in compliance with the policy.
Ajayi left Utah State again in the fall of 2016 without having earned a degree, according to KSL TV. In his LinkedIn profile, Ajayi said he studied at London South Bank University in addition to Utah State, but the school said that he never attended the University and was not in their records.
Ajayi’s LinkedIn profile also said that he was employed by the U.S. Army as an information technology specialist from September 2014 until June of 2016, according to KSL TV. That would have coincided with his time at Utah State in 2015 and 2016.
Ajayi was confirmed as a member of the Utah Army National Guard’s 214th Forward Support Company in Tooele, KSL TV reported. He did not attend basic or advanced individual training and did not meet “medical procurement standards,” resulting in him being discharged on June 10, 2015, after six months of service, Utah National Guard public affairs officer D.J. Gibb told KSL.com.
Officials added that Ajayi could not have been a member of both the active Army and the Utah Army National Guard at the same time. The spokesman from the Utah Army National Guard also said his reported dates of service do not match their official records.
From September of 2017 until August of 2018, KSL TV placed Ajayi as a contract employee in the information technology department at Salt Lake City’s Goldman Sachs location. His LinkedIn profile also stated that he was an employee at Dell’s Draper office and, though the company would not say when he began working there, he was no longer employed by July of 2018.
The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom spoke with Ajayi’s former wife recently, and she alleged that he once slashed her with a knife and left her with a scar. She told the tabloid that they have not seen each other for years, as she went into hiding and changed her phone number due to the supposed violent outbursts.
Ajayi and his former wife finalized their divorce in January of 2019, according to KSL TV. It appears that the marriage was legal for nearly eight years.
Ajayi has been charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated murder, desecration of a human body and obstruction of justice. An initial appearance in court is scheduled for Monday.
Editor's Note: This article has been edited to say that Ayoola Ajayi lived in North Logan from 2013 until 2015. A previous version of the story said he lived in North Salt Lake from 2013-2016.