Suspect in Utah college student murder sought secret, soundproof room in his home: Contractor

'Who needs a room with a thumb locks and hooks?' the contractor wondered.

June 29, 2019, 2:37 PM

About two months before Utah college student MacKenzie Lueck went missing, the man now suspected of her murder asked a local contractor to build a soundproof room in his home with hooks drilled into concrete walls and a secret entrance with a thumb lock, the contractor claims.

“Honestly? I don’t know what he wanted it for,” contractor Brian Wolf told ABC News’ Salt Lake City affiliate KTVX of suspect Ayoola Ajayi, 31.

“But my gut was not normal. I mean, who needs a room with a thumb locks and hooks? In my opinion it was for something bad.”

Mackenzie Lueck is pictured in this undated photo released by her family.
Family Photo

Wolf said he turned down the job and "got the hell out of there," but remains haunted by the encounter.

“It’s mind-blowing,” he told KTVX. “It’s like something out of a movie.”

Attempts by ABC News to reach Wolf directly were not immediately successful.

Salt Lake City police take Ayoola A. Ajayi into custody in connection with missing University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 28, 2019.
Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP

Wolf told local Fox affiliate WXIN that when he asked Ajayi why he wanted a secret room about the size of a walk-in closet built, Ajayi told him that his Mormon girlfriend would be visiting and she didn’t know he drinks alcohol and he wanted to hide the booze in the secret room. The contractor said that Ajayi told him he would pay whatever the cost to have the room built.

He said he reported what he knew to police as soon as he saw the home on television news broadcasts.

A jogger runs pass a poster of Mackenzie Lueck at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, June 24, 2019.
Rick Bowmer/AP, FILE

Ajayi, 31, was taken into custody at the home on Friday and charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said at a news conference.

Charred tissue has been recovered that contains DNA consistent with samples found on Lueck's belongings, Brown said.

A police officer walks to a building where a man was taken into custody in connection with missing University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck Friday, June 28, 2019, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer/AP

Lueck, 23, was last seen in the early hours of June 17. She landed at the Salt Lake City International Airport around 2 a.m., then at 2:40 a.m. she took a Lyft from the airport to Hatch Park in north Salt Lake City, police said.

Ajayi admitted to police that he and Lueck texted about 6 a.m. on June 16, but said that they did not text after that time, said Brown. He told police "he did not know what Mackenzie looked like and denied having seen a photo or online profile of Mackenzie, despite having several photos of her and a profile photo," Brown said.

His home was searched on Wednesday night when he was considered a person of interest, police said.

During that search, Ajayi's neighbors told police they saw him using gasoline to burn something in his backyard on June 17 and 18, police said.

It was not immediately clear whether Ajayi has retained a defense attorney.

On Friday, a northern Utah police department said that it investigated a rape allegation five years ago against Ajayi, but that the alleged victim declined to pursue charges, the Associated Press reported.

The agency said that Ajayi lived in the North Logan area from 2013 to 2015, according to the AP, but declined to provide additional details about the allegation.

Meanwhile, a house cleaner who recently cleaned Ajayi’s home in Ogden said she was spooked by what she described as an extensive set of surveillance cameras set up in his bedroom.

“The only thing that was odd to me was just how many cameras were in his house,” Tara Chatterton told KTVX. “I’ve cleaned several house and people have had cameras, but this one just stood out a little bit more because of how they were placed in the master bedroom.”

She said Ajayi invited her to drink whiskey with him when she was cleaning the home, but that she turned him down.

“I just felt uncomfortable — and not safe,” said Chatterton.

ABC News' Emily Shapiro and Nicholas Tucker contributed to this report.