KSL Investigates Ayoola Ajayi’s Changing Immigration Status
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Although much of a person’s immigration status is private information, representatives with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, the suspect charged in the murder of Mackenzie Lueck, is a lawful legal resident and he was at the time of his arrest.
It was not clear whether that status means Ajayi may or may not have had a green card.
In the fall of 2009, Utah State University confirmed Ajayi traveled from his home in Nigeria, Africa to Logan, Utah where he began attending classes on a student visa.
Shortly after Ajayi his arrival in October 2009, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Logan Dill was a missionary who taught Ajayi while serving in the Ogden mission.
Dill said he and his missionary companion met Ajayi while walking around on Utah State’s campus, and 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. So, it was just a really cool experience. Things moved very quickly. He just soaked everything up,” Dill said. “He found some instant friends, you know. People were very warm and welcoming, and accepted him right away.”
Dill knew Ajayi as “Joy.”
“I really just remember like how happy he was. He was a really happy person, joked all the time,” said Dill. “I don’t know, (he) made everyone feel comfortable.”
#BREAKING: Charges have been filed against Ayoola Ajayi, 31, in the murder of University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck. She died as a result of “blunt force trauma,” according to an autopsy performed by the medical examiner. @KSL5TV
— Brittany Glas (@BrittanyGlasTV) July 10, 2019
By the spring 2011 semester, however, Ajayi left Utah State. Court records show that by June 2011, he was married in Dallas, Texas to a woman named Tenisha Jenkins Ajayi. She was quoted in media interviews as saying she hasn’t lived with Ajayi in years.
Dill said he never knew Ajayi was married. After he was transferred out of the area and ultimately, got home from his mission, he kept in contact with Ajayi only over Facebook. Dill said Ajayi never posted anything about the wedding or marriage – at least nothing he saw online.
“I do think he wanted to get married and I think that was important to him and so, he would flirt a lot,” he said.
According to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, regardless of whether someone who is not a citizen marries someone who is, that person’s “permanent residency” in the country is not automatic. There’s still an application process.
ICE also told KSL Investigates they have a fraud investigation unit that checks into marriages and marriage fraud. However, due to privacy concerns, the federal agency would not release any specifics into what they looked at, if anything, in Ajayi’s case.
According to Salt Lake County records, Ajayi’s divorce was final in January 2019. Meaning, in all, the marriage was legal for nearly eight years. It was not clear if Ajayi’s divorce impacted his immigration status in any way.
— Brittany Glas (@BrittanyGlasTV) June 28, 2019
By May 2012, according to reports from the USU Police Department, although Ajayi wasn’t a student at the time, he was on-campus. University police gave him a warning for trespassing. The report suggested Ajayi may have actually been homeless.
USU PD contacted ICE about Ajayi to alert them to the fact that he was in violation of his student visa because he was not enrolled in classes.
In July 2012, university police arrested Ajayi on a possession of stolen property charge – a class B misdemeanor. As a result, he was banned from university property.
In a letter dated August 2012 from the school’s associate vice president for student services to Ajayi, the VP told Ajayi that he had been made aware that Ajayi was “in the U.S. illegally.”
KSL TV was unable to pin-down Ajayi’s immigration status in 2013 and 2014. Around that time, Dill said he lost touch with Ajayi.
“I knew that he was still a participating member of the church,” Dill said. “Around 2013, I don’t know, (it) seemed like he started to make other decisions in his life.”
By the spring of 2015, USU confirmed Ajayi returned as a student. University officials would not say what type of visa he was on at that point, but said that when Ajayi reapplied for acceptance into the school, his immigration status had changed. He was then “in compliance,” and the issue was resolved.
Ajayi left USU again the fall of 2016, and never earned a degree.
Ajayi’s LinkedIn profile and resume indicated he studied at Utah State University and London South Bank University. According to officials with LSCU’s student services and registry teams, Ajayi was not a student of that university.
The LinkedIn profile also indicated Ajayi was employed by the U.S. Army as an Information Technology Specialist from September 2014 through June 2016.
Representatives with the Utah Army National Guard confirmed Private Ayoola Ajayi was a member of the 214th Forward Support Company based out of Tooele. However, he did not attend basic or advanced individual trainings and was discharged on June 10, 2015 after six months of service.
The Utah Army National Guard told us he could not have been a member of both the active Army and the Army National Guard at the same time. The spokesperson for the Utah Army National Guard says Ajayi’s dates don’t match official records.
From September 2017 to August 2018, KSL Investigates confirmed Ajayi was a contract employee working in information technology at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City.
Ajayi LinkedIn page said he had been an employee at Dell’s Draper office. As of July 2018, he was no longer employed there. The company would not say when he started working there.
“I just hope I wasn’t like, fooled, maybe like other people around him,” Dill said. “I wish I would have kept in better contact and maybe I would have seen some red flags.”