SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A neighbor near the house that was searched in connection with the disappearance of University of Utah student said she smelled gasoline and something burning there.
Teresa Draheim said her neighbor, whose home police searched Wednesday, lit a fire in his yard recently. And she said she smelled gasoline.
Authorities have spoken with the owner of the residence in the Fairpark neighborhood, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown told reporters Thursday. Brown did not identify the homeowner, who is not in police custody.
“Multiple items of evidence” were found Wednesday when investigators searched the home, Brown told reporters. Investigators are looking for a mattress and box spring that were given away from the Fairpark home last week, Brown said. He asked that whoever took them contact the Salt Lake City Police Department.
University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck has not been seen since June 17.
She was dropped off by a Lyft driver at park where she met some else, and the 23-year-old’s friends and family have not heard from her.
The university student’s disappearance is surrounded by mystery, and yet police say that day she did not seem troubled.
Lueck flew in to Salt Lake City International Airport from a family funeral in California and texted her parents at 1 a.m. when she landed.
Airport surveillance footage showed her rolling her luggage past a baggage carousel in the early morning hours.
She then took a Lyft to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake City, where she was last seen.
“Mackenzie was met at Hatch Park by an individual in a vehicle,” Salt Lake City Police Assistant Chief Tim Doubt told reporters Monday. “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.”
Detectives have been canvassing the area around the park and looking for video surveillance.
A digital investigation
Authorities have not been able to track Lueck through her phone, which they believe has not been on since June 17.
Investigators may not have location tracking, but Brown said investigators are examining the case’s “digital footprint.”
“This is a digital forensic investigation,” he said. “This is covering computers, cellphones, IP addresses, URLs, texting apps.”
The Lyft driver confirmed the route Lueck took and the app said that it showed no irregularities.
“We recognize how scary this must be for those who know and love Ms. Lueck,” Lyft said. “The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation.”
Friends and family worry
Lueck’s family and friends have not heard from her since the day she landed, police said. And they say it is unusual.
Lueck was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on June 23 but missed the flight.
Friend and sorority sister Ashley Fine told CNN affiliate KSL that Lueck also has missed exams.
“She’s extremely dedicated. She would never miss her midterms or anything like that,” Fine told the Salt Lake City TV station. “She hasn’t been home. She didn’t show up to work, or anything.”
Brown spoke to her father and said he could “feel the heartache and the pain and the suffering in his voice as we spoke.”
“And my commitment to Greg was we would do everything within our power, the Salt Lake City Police Department, to bring Mackenzie home,” Brown said. “And that is our charge and that we are committed to do.”