Tenisha Jenkins, Ayoola Ajayi’s estranged wife, spoke of a terrorizing marriage to the 31-year-old U.S. Army veteran, which she said she fled to escape abuse.
Jenkins detailed an alleged history of violence leading up to the murder of Mackenzie Lueck, a 23-year-old nursing student at University of Utah, in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Lueck’s story is being told on an episode of Dateline, “Into the Dark,” at 10/9C September 13, 2019. She was at a funeral for her grandmother, Geraldine Walker Stephens, in her hometown of El Segundo, California. Lueck flew back to Salt Lake City, Utah and texted her parents to say her flight landed at about 2 a.m. June 17. Then, Lueck got into a Lyft, which, instead of taking her home, took her to Hatch Park about 8 miles from her house, west of the campus. She got into another car at the park at about 3 a.m., but appeared happy to see the person. She did not seem distressed, witnesses told police. Witnesses later told investigators they saw Ajayi burning something in his yard June 17 and 18. Police determined Lueck’s charred remains were in the yard, they said in a press conference. He is facing charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.
According to Ajayi’s estranged wife, he had a history of violence and abuse that forced her to flee the marriage. She told the Daily Mail they are still legally married, but have not seen each other in years.
Jenkins is a mother of four.
“If he took an innocent child he needs to spend his life in jail,” she told the Daily Mail.
Here’s what you need to know:
Jenkins Said She Fled Her Marriage to Ajayi When He Slashed Her With a Butcher Knife
Jenkins and Ajayi had a tumultuous marriage that unraveled quickly. When the marriage was in trouble, Ajayi said he was moving back to his hometown in Utah. She said she could not move from Dallas, Texas, with her children, but that made him angry.
“He was telling me not to talk to anybody. He used to check up on me. He started to get more and more aggressive. Eventually he said he would kill me if I didn’t go to Utah,” she said.
At a friend’s house in Dallas, she said he threatened her and tried to restrain her.
“He tried to tie me up with a phone chord. When I went to run he blocked the door. I ended up jumping through a window and cutting my arm on the glass,” she said. “He chased me into the street with a knife and and cut me in the hand. I didn’t go to the police but I moved out of my apartment so he couldn’t find me.”
Jenkins showed the Daily Mail a scar on her arm from the broken glass, and a scar on her hand, which she said was from the knife.
“A person that don’t love you, that don’t want to be with you, why are you still trying to be with them?” she said on a Facebook Live video.
Jenkins Said She Asked if Ajayi Was ‘a Killer’ When a Family Friend Wanted to Introduce Them
Jenkins godmother introduced her to Jenkins in 2011, and they were married that June.
“My Godmother said to me, ‘I’ve got someone for you,’” Tenisha told the Daily Mail. “I asked her, ‘Is he crazy? Is he a killer?’ But she said he was a good person.”
On their first date, she said they went to her house. She described him as “cool,” “a loving person,” and “not crazy.”
“My kids liked him. He used to buy them clothes, do stuff for them. He paid for my apartment, my childcare, everything,” she added.
They were married in downtown Dallas but decided not to invite their families. At the time, she was pregnant with the youngest of her two sons.
Jenkins Remains Legally Married to Ajayi, But Has Not Seen Him in Years & Changed Her Number
Jenkins told the Daily Mail she went into hiding after she fled an abusive marriage to Ajayi. While they remain legally married, she said they have not seen each other in years, and she changed her cellphone number because of his violent outbursts.
She told the Daily Mail she repeatedly asked Ajayi for a divorce, but he refused to sign the papers, and one of his friends threatened her.
“I kept telling him, ‘I don’t want to be with you, I want a divorce,’” she said. “He wouldn’t sign the papers. His friend from the Army kept calling me, saying they were going to kidnap me.”
She has not made any public posts about the arrest or the case since Lueck’s disappearance on her Facebook page. Many of the details on her Facebook page were kept private.
She recorded a Facebook live video January 17, 2019 from a hospital after having surgery on her hand.
“Thank you, Lord, for waking me up this morning. God woke my eyes up for real. He really did this time,” she said.
Jenkins Said She Would be Willing to Testify Against Ajayi in His Murder Case
Jenkins said she would be willing to testify about the alleged history of abuse in her estranged husband’s murder case in the death of Lueck. He is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and desecration of a body.
“If they need me to come to court and testify against him, I’ll tell them how he was aggressive and controlling. This could have happened to me. This could have happened to my child,” she said.
Jenkins, who is 35, is a mother of four.