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Man pleads guilty to murdering University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck

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Oct. 8 (UPI) — A Salt Lake City man has pleaded guilty to murdering a 23-year-old student last year after they met on a dating website.

Ayoola Ajayi, 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body for the death of MacKenzie Lueck.

Under the terms of the deal, a judge is expected to sentence Ajayi on Oct. 23 to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He avoided the death penalty as part of the agreement.

Defense attorney Neal Hamilton said Ajayi killed Lueck, a University of Utah student, after they met June 17, 2019. Lueck had just returned from her grandmother’s funeral and took a Lyft ride from the Salt Lake City airport to Hatch Park to meet with Ajayi.

Hamilton said Ajayi planned to kill Lueck before they met.

The two traveled to Ajayi’s home, where he tied up Lueck and strangled her until she stopped moving. Officials said she died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Hamilton said his client then burned Lueck and her belongings in his backyard and buried the remains. After police visited Ajayi at his home to question him about Lueck’s disappearance, he then dug up her remains and reburied her in a shallow grave at Logan Canton.

After his arrest a week later, Ajayi told police where her body was buried.

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Tech worker pleads guilty to killing and burning California student Mackenzie Lueck

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By LINDSAY WHITEHURST | The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY  — A tech worker pleaded guilty on Wednesday to strangling a Utah college student whose disappearance over a year ago sparked a search that ended with the discovery of her charred remains in his backyard.

FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2019, file photo, Ayoola A. Ajayi appears in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City. Ajayi pleaded guilty in the death of a Utah college student Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, more than a year after her disappearance sparked a large-scale search that ended with the discovery of her charred remains in his backyard. Ajayi is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. (Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP, File) 

Ayoola A. Ajayi acknowledged he planned the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck, whom he met on a dating app and arranged to meet in a park. After they returned to his home, he bound and strangled her, then burned and hid her body while police and loved ones searched for her, his lawyer said in court.

Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a corpse in an agreement with prosecutors that removed the possibility of the death penalty. Prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated kidnapping and obstructing justice.

Ajayi also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a different woman he met on a dating app. He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the guilty pleas allow Lueck’s parents to begin to get closure and a “measure of justice.” Gill said the family has asked for privacy.

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person who belonged to a sorority

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Tech worker pleads guilty in death of Utah college student

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A tech worker pleaded guilty on Wednesday to strangling a Utah college student whose disappearance over a year ago sparked a search that ended with the discovery of her charred remains in his backyard.

Ayoola A. Ajayi acknowledged he planned the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck, whom he met on a dating app and arranged to meet in a park. After they returned to his home, he bound and strangled her, then burned and hid her body while police and loved ones searched for her, his lawyer said in court.

Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a corpse in an agreement with prosecutors that removed the possibility of the death penalty. Prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated kidnapping and obstructing justice.


Ajayi also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a different woman he met on a dating app. He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the guilty pleas allow Lueck’s parents to begin to get closure and a “measure of justice.” Gill said the family has asked for privacy.

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person who belonged to a sorority and was a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing.

She went missing in June 2019, after returning from a trip home to El Segundo, California, for her grandmother’s funeral. Lueck had met Ajayi, 32, on the site Seeking Arrangement, which bills itself as a way for wealthy “sugar daddies” to meet women known as “sugar babies,” his lawyer said. She took a Lyft to meet him in a park, prosecutors have said. Her phone was turned off a minute after the last text and never turned back on.

Ajayi planned

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Man pleads guilty to aggravated murder of University of Utah student in exchange for life sentence

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The man charged with killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body Wednesday, according to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.



a close up of a woman: Mackenzie Lueck died of blunt force trauma, according to a medical examiner.


© Mackenzie Lueck/Facebook
Mackenzie Lueck died of blunt force trauma, according to a medical examiner.

The plea deal takes the death penalty off the table, Gill said.

“Part of the plea agreement is that Ayoola Ajayi will spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Gill said.

Lueck was last seen on June 17, 2019. Her body was found tied up in a canyon with a hole in the side of her head. Lueck died of blunt force trauma to the skull, the medical examiner said.

Prosecutors say photos of Lueck were found on Ajayi’s phone, although he claimed not to know her. Police found burned items in his backyard believed to be Lueck’s.

Ajayi also pleaded guilty to a charge of Forcible Sex Abuse in a separate case, Gill said.

CNN has reached out to an attorney for Ajayi for comment.

Final sentencing is scheduled for October 23.

Lueck’s parents were informed of the plea deal.

“The entry of the pleas today starts the process of bringing some closure and a measure of justice to the Lueck family,” said Gill.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that Ayoola Ajayi pleaded guilty to a charge in a separate case.

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Man Pleads Guilty to Killing and Burning a Utah College Student

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A Utah man who wrote a book that described the burning deaths of two people pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing a University of Utah student whose charred remains he buried in his backyard last year, prosecutors said.

The man, Ayoola A. Ajayi, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder and one count of desecration of a human body in the death of the student, Mackenzie Lueck, 23, whom Mr. Ajayi had met on a dating website, according to the Salt Lake County district attorney.

Under a deal with prosecutors, Mr. Ajayi, 32, will avoid a possible death sentence and will be sentenced later this month to life in prison without parole, the district attorney, Sim Gill, said.

Mr. Gill said Mr. Ajayi had also pleaded guilty on Wednesday to forcible sex abuse in a separate episode in March 2018, when he met another woman online, invited her to his house for dinner and then assaulted her as they watched television on his couch.

Mr. Gill said prosecutors had spoken to Ms. Lueck’s family about the plea agreement.

“Hopefully,’’ he said, “this is the beginning of closure for them and maybe for the retrieval of some measure of justice for this incredible loss they’ve suffered as a family.”

Mr. Ajayi’s lawyer, Neal G. Hamilton, declined to comment.

Mr. Ajayi and Ms. Lueck met in 2018 on the website Seeking Arrangement and then met in a park on June 17, 2019, prosecutors said. Mr. Ajayi, an information technology worker, had decided before the meeting that he would murder Ms. Lueck, prosecutors said, and turned off the video on his home security system before leaving his home to meet her.

After Ms. Lueck went back to Mr. Ajayi’s house, he tied her up and choked her, first with his hands and

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