SALT LAKE CITY, UT - On Wednesday, Ayoola Ajayi, 32, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body in the grisly death of University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck. Her charred and bound remains were discovered in a Utah Logan Canyon last year.
On July 3, 2019, Ajayi led police to Lueck's body located in a shallow grave, her arms were tied behind her back with zip ties.
An autopsy determined her death was due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Ajayi and Lueck met on a dating app in 2018.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported:
Lueck disappeared after flying back to Salt Lake City from California, where she had attended her grandmother’s funeral. Early in the morning of June 17, 2019, she took a Lyft from the airport to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake. There she met Ajayi, who once lived in an apartment complex near the park, and police have said she was last seen getting into his car.
Once they were at Ajayi’s home, Hamilton said, Ajayi tied Lueck’s hands behind her back and tried to choke her with his hands. Hamilton said that Lueck “protested” and told Ajayi to stop, but he didn’t. Instead, he moved her on to her stomach and strangled her with a belt until she stopped moving, the attorney said.
Initially, Ajayi buried Lueck's body in his backyard. The next morning, he doused her remains in gasoline and set her ablaze.
A few days after Lueck was reported missing, Ajayi then dug up her body and moved it to the canyon in northern Utah.
In exchange for the plea deal, which spared the Nigerian immigrant from the death penalty, prosecutors agreed to also reduce and drop other charges against him, including the kidnap and sexual assault of another woman in an unrelated case, as well the possession of child pornography.
Ajayi is scheduled for sentencing on October 23 for Lueck's murder, as well as for the lesser charge of forcible sex involving the other woman. He is expected to receive life without the possibility of parole.
A taxpayer-funded interpreter fluent in Yoruban was required throughout the court proceedings.