OGDEN — It wasn't the request to build a secret room that made Brian Wolf uneasy. It wasn't questions about what it might take to soundproof the room.
It was when a potential customer asked the self-employed contractor if he could anchor hooks high onto the concrete wall.
"As soon as he said he wanted the hooks above head height, I was like, 'Why do you need big hooks up there?'" said Wolf, who said the man arrested for killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck asked him to remodel a space under his front porch on April 4. "And he said it was to hang a wine rack. I said, 'Well, I can hang a wine rack and make it look a lot nicer than these big, gaudy hooks.'"
Wolf realized his eerie connection to the Lueck investigation on Thursday afternoon when he saw a picture of investigators excavating parts of a home in the Fairpark neighborhood.
"I sat down to drink a soda, and I turned on the news," Wolf said. "And as soon as I turned it on, his house was there, and my heart just dropped. I'm like, 'No way.' I remembered the blue light in the window and the camera doorbell right there in the corner."
As he listened to the details, he realized the “person of interest” and owner of the home was the same man who'd asked him to customize a "hollowed out area under the front porch" into a soundproof, secret and secure room three months ago.
He called the plumber who'd referred the homeowner to him, and the plumber confirmed that's the house where they'd both been commissioned to do repair and remodel work in April. Wolf showed the Deseret News the text messages he exchanged with homeowner, Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, whom Wolf knew as AJ. Ajayi was arrested for investigation of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, abuse or desecration of a dead human body and obstruction of justice Friday morning and was being held without bail at the Salt Lake County Jail.
The phone number Wolf showed reporters matched the phone number listed for Ajayi. Wolf called police immediately to report his experience.
He said a lot of people ask for a secret room, which is fairly easy to build. But it was the details that made the owner of Top to Bottom (formerly Wolf Home Repairs) more and more uneasy.
"Then the soundproofing came in and the … fingerprint thumb lock (keypad) thing, and then he was adamant about telling me that money was no (object) and he wanted it done as soon as possible," Wolf said. "It just got weirder and weirder, the more he was talking to me."
What was even more strange to Wolf and his nephew, who was working with him at the time, was the explanation for the secure, soundproof room.
"He said he wanted to listen to his music really loud," Wolf said, adding that another man was present when this conversation happened, but he didn't speak English and didn't interact with Wolf or his nephew. The man insisted it needed to be secret and secure because "his Mormon girlfriend was coming into town and he drank alcohol. So he wanted to hide his alcohol."
Wolf said that as he made the connection, he became emotional.
"I was shaking, and I don't know, it was just overwhelming," he said. "I called the Salt Lake City Police Department right away and told them what I knew. … They were saying he was a person of interest, and what he wanted me to build, this woman was missing, it was just way too close to reality, I guess."
Wolf said that when he first met the homeowner, whom he believed worked in IT, he said he seemed like a "pretty decent dude."
"He seemed like a normal guy," Wolf said of his first impressions of the man. "Obviously, he is a good actor, or he just has, well, I don't even know how to describe a person like that. I would never in a million years thought that this would be happening right now."
Wolf left the 30-minute meeting sure of only one thing. He had no intention of taking the job. A few weeks later, the man he knew as AJ texted him, and he called him back to tell him he wouldn't have time for the project.16 comments on this story
The father of two isn't sure if what he told police will help in prosecuting Lueck's suspected killer, but he choked back tears as he talked about the fact that his daughter is also 23 years old.
"I'd go crazy," he said of the thought of having his daughter go missing for a week and then learning she'd been killed. "I can't imagine what that family is going through. … I'm still trying to soak it all in. It's sad what happened to (Lueck), and I hope that dude goes away forever."
"He wanted me to build a weird room."