SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police searching for missing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck confirmed late Wednesday they were serving a search warrant at a home on the city's northwest side.
A large police presence could be seen as Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Tim Doubt confirmed the house in the Fairpark neighborhood and its occupants have "a nexus to the case." Doubt said investigators expected to remain at the scene for several hours.
He declined to answer multiple questions or say whether any arrests had been made as of Wednesday night.
Doubt asked the public to continue to send in tips regarding Lueck's disappearance, while police appeared to search the garage and driveway of the home. He said they expected to have more information on the findings of the search warrant by Thursday morning.
Neighbors watching the scene unfold around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night described the primary occupant of the house, a man whom they guessed to be in his 30s or 40s, as someone who keeps to himself.
"He seems like a quiet guy," said a neighbor from across the street, who said he had seen the man in his yard occasionally. He and his partner, who declined to give their names, said they first noticed police cars in front of the home earlier in the afternoon.
"When I found out it was related (to the Lueck case), I was pretty shocked," the man said.
Another woman, a lifelong resident of the street, said she hadn't ever spoken to her neighbor, who she estimated moved in roughly a year ago.
The house includes a bedroom that is available to rent for short-term stays, according to a listing on Airbnb and accounts from neighbors.
As police and the public have sought answers about Lueck's disappearance nine days ago, questions were being raised about whether her social media and dating accounts might lead to a break in the case.
Lueck, 23, was last seen early on the morning of June 17 when she flew into Salt Lake City International Airport after attending a family funeral in her hometown of El Segundo, California. Surveillance video at the airport recorded Lueck making her way to baggage claim, and then getting into a Lyft vehicle.
The Lyft driver told police he dropped off Lueck at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake about 3 a.m. where another person in a car was waiting for her. As of Wednesday, Salt Lake police have not been able to identify that person or even the make and model of that car.
The park is located less than six miles from the Fairpark home police were searching Wednesday.
And on Wednesday, Salt Lake police confirmed the young woman, known to most as "Kenzie," sent a text to someone while she was at the airport and detectives have been in contact with that person.
Detective Michael Ruff declined to say, however, whether that person is a man or woman, but said that person is not considered a suspect.
Previously, police had stated that Lueck texted her parents at 2 a.m. on June 17 when she arrived at the airport. Ruff said Wednesday that the new person police had talked to, whom she texted, was not her parents, but declined to give more details.
During a press conference Tuesday, police were asked about a dating app that purports to show a profile with Lueck's likeness, allegedly with activity on it from that morning. Doubt would only say that all her social media accounts are being investigated.
Doubt was also asked about reports from friends that Lueck was dating several men who are older.
"We're aware of that, and we're following up on all those leads," Doubt said, while declining to say whether any of those people had been interviewed.
A locally produced podcast titled “Zion's Lost,” which focuses on missing people and cold case investigations in Utah, stated on its show this week that its own private investigator had verified Lueck has a profile on the website SeekingArrangement, which promotes itself as "the world's largest network for sugar daddy and sugar baby relationships."
What appears to be a picture of Lueck is posted on the website under one of the profiles.
Lueck's disappearance and word that she may have been on at least one "sugar daddy" website has sparked discussion by others on social media.
Screenshots of messages posted under the name "Kenzie Lueck" in a private Facebook group were shared by others on Tuesday. In one message, she gives advice on how to use sugar daddy websites and talks about her own experience. The messages appeared to have been originally posted about two months ago.
"Mine says 'I want a SD/SB relationship with a real connection.' If don't know what a SD/SB is, tell them bluntly sugar daddy and sugar baby. But if they don't know, they aren't really worth your time," the post states. "Private message me, if you have more questions! I have experience."
That was followed by another message that stated: "I have some experience on seeking arrangements, online only, Tinder, and currently have two lol."
In response to an inquiry seeking confirmation whether Lueck had a profile with SeekingArrangement, a spokeswoman declined to confirm whether she was a website member, saying, “We never release member information.”
“That being said, once a conversation between two members moves off site, there is no way for us to monitor what happens,” De La Cruz said. “I will also add that we always cooperate with law enforcement when it's been reported that a law has been or potentially has been broken on our site.”
De La Cruz said there are currently over 25,000 “sugar babies” on SeekingArrangement.com in Utah, more than 5,500 “sugar daddies” and more than 900 “sugar mommas.”
In conversations this week in a Facebook group discussing Lueck's disappearance, a man claimed that he had met Lueck on Tinder and that she was "looking for that type of relationship." The man went on to say the Lueck had mentioned she "wanted" to be a sugar baby and that "she needed money."
Salt Lake police on Wednesday remained tight-lipped about the dating apps, and would not confirm whether they believe the profiles were created by Lueck or if detectives had tracked down and interviewed any of the men she allegedly dated.
Julia Giddens and Janet Nelson, the women who host the “Zion's Lost” podcast, emphasized on their program that no matter what choices Lueck may have made in her life, she didn't deserve to be victimized in any way, and they said they were sharing the information in an effort to get answers on her whereabouts.11 comments on this story
"She is an adult and she has the right to do what she wants," Giddens said. "We are giving this information because we want to ask anyone with information to come forward, as we highly suspect that the person she met that night was a man that she was in a SD/SB relationship with. Mackenzie is an adult and she has the right to do what she wants. That is her business and her business alone. We are not sharing this information to be salacious."
Contributing: McKenzie Romero, Andrew Adams
Correction: The "Zion's Lost" podcast used a private investigator to look at Lueck's online activity. A previous version incorrectly stated the family had hired the investigator.