MacKenzie Lueck, the missing 23-year-old University of Utah student, was last seen on June 17 at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake, police said at a June 24 press conference. Lueck landed at the Salt Lake City airport about 2 a.m. after returning from a trip home to the Los Angeles area for her grandmother’s funeral. She texted her parents to say she had arrived in Utah and then took a Lyft rideshare to the park.
According to police, the Lyft driver said he saw Lueck meet someone at the park when he dropped her off there about 2:50 a.m. The press conference revealed new details of the missing person case, which began when her family reported her disappearance on Thursday, June 20. Police have said they have no evidence that Lueck is in danger or has been harmed, and a criminal investigation has not been started, but they are concerned about the fact she vanished without a trace, missing a mid-term, work and a flight back to Los Angeles scheduled for June 23.
“Detectives have spoken with the Lyft driver and learned that 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. We have not yet confirmed the make and model of the car or the description of the person, but may release further details once we have verified that information,” Salt Lake City Assistant Police Chief Tim Doubt said. He said the driver saw Lueck make contact with the other person, but was not sure if the driver saw her get into the other vehicle or leave the park.
Doubt added that police are not putting out any information about the make or model of the vehicle or a description of the driver that the Lyft driver said he saw Lueck meet until those details are confirmed. He said they do not want the public to be looking for a person or vehicle with incorrect information.
You can read more about MacKenzie Lueck’s background and previous reporting on the case here. She is from El Segundo, California, and is a senior nursing student at the University of Utah who also works at a lab.
“We’re not sure what the case is at this point,” Salt Lake Police Sergeant Brandon Shearer told the Deseret News. “We’ve still not found any evidence that she is in danger, that she has been harmed, specifically.” He said there is no evidence a crime has been committed, but they are “very concerned” because she has disappeared without a trace.
You can watch the police press conference below:
Doubt said detectives have tried to find Lueck through her phone, but have not been able to because it was turned off. He said detectives have interviewed her friends and acquaintances from school and checked locations she was known to frequent.
“Detectives have listed MacKenzie in the national database as missing and are exploring all avenues of investigative techniques, including writing and serving various warrants, talking to friends and family and checking social media,” Doubt said. “Since we took the report on Thursday, detectives have canvassed the area around Hatch Park multiple times to try and locate any video surveillance from businesses or from residences that may have captured anything. Detectives are also knocking on doors in the area of the park to rule out that anyone there may have had contact with MacKenzie or seen anything.”
Doubt added, “Occasionally police work a missing person case where the person does not want to have contact with family and friends. If that is the case, 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 will respect your wishes.”
Doubt said some of the unanswered questions about the case are some of the same ones detectives are trying to find answers for. “We encourage the public to help us answer these questions: Does MacKenzie have an alternate phone that she has used or is using? Who did MacKenzie meet in North Salt Lake City? Does MacKenzie have any social media accounts we do not know about? Is anyone in contact with MacKenzie online or by phone currently or in the last week?”
Lueck Appeared to Be ‘Happy to See the Driver’ After She Was Dropped Off by the Lyft at Hatch Park, Sources Told CBS News
According to CBS News’ David Begnaud, “She put her bag in the car & appeared to be happy to see the driver,” when she arrived at Hatch Park. … This information was given to police by a Lyft driver who took Mackenzie from the Salt Lake City International Airport to the park. The Lyft driver is the one who described the interaction between Mackenzie and the unidentified individual as pleasant & happy to see each other. … Mackenzie did not appear to be in any distress when she got out of the Lyft and into the unidentified vehicle.”
Shearer told the Deseret News, “We have reason to believe she did not stay in that area very long.” Shearer did not provide many details, including whether surveillance video or other evidence indicates that she left the area on foot or in another vehicle.
Police said she does not have a known boyfriend or significant other and they are not aware of anyone who had made any threats toward her prior to her disappearance. A family source told CBS News’ David Begnaud that Lueck was known to date older men and was “currently dating multiple people” casually. Her family and police have been researching her dating app and dating website profiles.
The Lyft driver is not considered to be a suspect and police said they confirmed he picked up other customers for rides after dropping Lueck off at the park.
“We recognize how scary this must be for those who know and love Ms. Lueck,” a Lyft spokesperson told ABC News. “The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft.”
Assistant Police Chief Tim Doubt said at the press conference on June 24, “Our detectives have been working around the clock on this case and finding MacKenzie is a very high priority for us. A significant portion of our department has been assigned to work the case, we’ve been in contact with our federal, state and local partners. We’ve had regular contact with the Lueck family. Chief Brown has personally talked with the family and offered our commitment to finding MacKenzie. We will continue to work with them or anyone who has information on this case.”
Officials at the University of Utah Issued a Statement Saying They Are ‘Deeply Concerned About the Well-Being’ of Kenzie Lueck
The University of Utah issued a statement about Lueck on June 24:
The University of Utah is deeply concerned about the well-being of Mackenzie “Kenzie” Lueck and her family. The university is cooperating with the Salt Lake City Police Department, which is investigating her disappearance. Mackenzie is enrolled part-time as a senior at the U, and is majoring in kinesiology and pre-nursing and minoring in health. She has been enrolled at the U since fall 2014. Because of privacy laws that protect Mackenzie’s personal information, the university cannot provide further details.
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. The dean’s office is also talking with and providing support to Mackenzie’s classmates.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the Salt Lake City Police Department at 801-799-4420.
We know it can be difficult to process uncertainties such as this, and the U’s Counseling Center is available to assist those in need. To schedule an appointment, call 801-581-6826 or visit the office’s temporary reception area in Room 330 in the Student Services Building. Staff have access to counseling through the Employee Assistance Program. More information and resources are available at SafeU.utah.edu.
The Lueck family said in a statement, “Our primary goal is to find Mackenzie and bring her home. Her family is grateful for the concern, prayers and the tireless efforts of the Salt Lake City Police and members of the community.” Her family added in a post on Facebook, “MacKenzie, if you can hear us, your family and friends are looking for you and are concerned for your safety. Please reach out to anyone so we can get you home.”
Her family says, “Mackenzie is 5’6” tall, 120 pounds with a slim/athletic build, medium length blonde hair and brown eyes.”
Police have been searching for Lueck, while her family, college friends and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward where she is a member, have been aiding in the search, passing out flyers in Salt Lake City and posting about her disappearance on social media.
Anyone with information is asked to call 801-799-4420, and reference her name or case 19-111129.