Killer of Utah Student Mackenzie Lueck Pleads Guilty, Says He Planned Murder Before He Even Met Her

Harriet Sokmensuer
·2-min read

Salt Lake City Police Department

The Utah man who killed 23-year-old University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck last summer admitted to planning her murder before he even met her.

On Wednesday, Ayoola Ajayi admitted strangling Lueck, who he met in 2018 on the website Seeking Arrangements, in June 2019 after arranging to meet her in person for the first time, according to KSL, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune. The 32-year-old man pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty.

During the sentencing hearing, Ajayi’s defense attorney Neal Hamilton revealed his client had planned the murder before the pair even met.

“Mr. Ajayi had decided that he would murder Ms. Lueck before the meeting took place,” Hamilton said, not disclosing how long Ajayi had been planning the murder.

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Lueck was last seen June 17, 2019, after a Lyft driver dropped her off at North Salt Lake’s Hatch Park around 3 a.m. Her family reported her missing on June 20.

Before he met Lueck at the park that night, Ajayi turned off his security video cameras to avoid recording her presence at his Salt Lake home. When they arrived at his house, Ajayi tied Lueck's hands behind her back and began choking her.

“Miss Lueck protested this and told Mr. Ajayi to stop,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “Mr. Ajayi did not stop.”

Once Lueck was dead, Ajayi burned her body and buried it in his yard before moving her remains to a northern Utah canyon, where he buried them again to thwart investigators, Hamilton said.

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Lueck's charred remains were found that July, after Ajayi told prosecutors where they were, through his attorneys.

Ajayi also pleaded guilty to abuse or desecration of a human body. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop other charges in the case, including aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony, and not seek the death penalty.

As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors also agreed to resolve charges Ajayi faced in two other cases, including a 2018 count of forcible sexual abuse and 19 felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, stemming from a child pornography case in August 2019.

Ajayi is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 23.