Ayoola Ajayi Pleads Guilty To Murder Of Mackenzie Lueck

Oct 7, 2020, 2:36 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with the man accused of killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck.

Ayoola Ajayi, age 32, appeared in Third District Court Tuesday, wearing a face mask. He faced felony charges of criminal homicide/aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstruction of justice and the abuse or desecration of a human body.

As part of the agreement, Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and abuse or desecration of a human body. The aggravated kidnapping and obstruction charges were dropped.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty, and instead agreed that Ajayi would serve life in prison with no chance for parole.

Prosecutors said Lueck’s family agreed to the terms of the plea deal.

Reported Missing June 20, 2019

Mackenzie Lueck was last heard from during the early morning hours of June 17, 2019. She had flown to the Salt Lake City International Airport from California for her grandmother’s funeral.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said it began as a missing person case three days later when Lueck’s father called the Salt Lake City Police Department and said no one had heard from his daughter since shortly after her arrival in Utah.

Investigators found video evidence that Lueck had been at the airport, as she was seen in surveillance footage walking toward the exit. As she left the airport, officials said Lueck took a Lyft share ride to Hatch Park in North Salt Lake, about 13 miles away.

A search of her cell phone records confirmed she had been at the park. Detectives also learned she had “exchanged several text messages” with Ajayi. Her last text to him was at 2:58 a.m.

Cell phone data placed Lueck and Ajayi at Hatch Park at the same time. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said Lueck’s phone stopped transmitting data or location information at 2:59 a.m., indicating her phone had been powered off.

Mackenzie Lueck Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty

LIVE: Ayoola Ajayi has pleaded guilty to murdering University of Utah student Mackenize Lueck in June 2019. In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty..

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Digital Footprint Led To Suspect’s Home

Police tracked Ajayi’s cell phone signal from the park to his home at 547 North 1000 West in the Fairpark neighborhood. Sim said the signal from Ajayi’s phone arrived at his home at 3:07 a.m. – just 7-8 minutes after picking Lueck up from the park.

After executing a search warrant at the home, detectives found a freshly dug site in the backyard. They found a charred human bone, muscular tissue and burned personal items they said belonged to Lueck.

In a nearby alleyway, they also found charred fabric and other items.

Gill said the DNA of the bone matched the DNA profile found in items belonging to Lueck.

During their search, a neighbor reported that on June 17 there had been a “horrible smell” coming from a fire in Ajayi’s backyard. The neighbor told police that Ajayi had a bonfire behind a garage at the residence that day, and again on June 18.

Witnessed said the fire was fueled by gasoline.

Gill said the neighbor reported the fire in the same location where detectives had found freshly dug ground, and where they had discovered the bone and tissue.

In the process of their search, investigators seized Ajayi’s vehicle. They reported a strong odor of gas, and a red gas can in the trunk. They further determined that Ajayi had purchased a similar gas can at a local store at 9 a.m. the morning Lueck went missing.

Police Work Led To Logan Canyon

Detectives discovered the location of Lueck’s body by following Ajayi’s digital footprint, officials said.

There had been speculation that Ajayi had cut a deal with prosecutors to reveal the location of the body, but Gill said that wasn’t the case.

He said a July 3, 2019, analysis of Ajayi’s cell phone records placed the phone in Logan Canyon on June 25 between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Police conducted an extensive search of the area. After what Gill described as a “lengthy search,” investigators found recently disturbed ground in a wooded area off the main road.

It was in this location where they found a charred human body that had been placed in a shallow grave. The medical examiner’s office determined the body was that of Lueck.

Her arms had been bound behind her back by zip tie and rope.

The medical examiner determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma on the left side of her skull and ruled her death a homicide.

Murder Investigation Led To Other Charges

Ajayi appeared in court on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, on 19 felony counts linked to child pornography allegedly found on his computer.

Investigators have said the images of children as young as 4 were found on his computer during the investigation into Lueck’s death, but have not been linked with her slaying.

He entered a plea of not guilty.

In December 2019, Ajayi was ordered to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted another woman he met on a dating app for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more than a year before Lueck’s death.

Officials said Ajayi invited the woman to dinner at his home in March 2018. She told officials he pinned her arms and assaulted her, but she was able to escape.

The woman reported the incident after seeing news stories about the death of Mackenzie Lueck.

Ajayi initially pleaded not guilty in that case, but has since changed his plea to guilty as part of the agreement with prosecutors.

Former Neighbors Have ‘Little Sympathy’ For Ajayi

Mackenzie Lueck’s death still haunts the neighborhood where her killer used to live.

One woman was just too teary-eyed to talk to KSL TV. Another neighbor said he wanted to move.

Jeff Lutz moved into Ajayi’s home, and said he tries not to think about it.

“I chose not to look at police reports, even though they said I could look at them if I wanted,” he said.

It was hard to miss Wednesday’s news.

“Mr. Ajayi burned Ms. Lueck’s body, her clothing and her belongings in an attempt to dispose of evidence of her murder and her presence at his home,” said prosecutors.

Ajayi’s attorney laid out in graphic detail what happened to Lueck, as his client pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body.

Neighbors said the hold little sympathy for the man who lived among them.

“He did an awful thing,” said Lutz. “I mean, it’s what he deserves.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

KSL 5 TV Live

Mackenzie Lueck Homicide

SWAT officers take 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi into custody on suspicion of the murder of 23-year-old ...

Brittany Glas & Jared Turner

Call between police, Ajayi before arrest released to KSL Investigators

A nearly 10-minute phone call between police and the suspect in the disappearance of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck was among the hundreds of photos, videos and documents released by the Salt Lake City Police Department.

3 years ago


Brittany Glas & Jared Turner, KSL TV

Police Release New Photos, Info In Mackenzie Lueck Murder Case

More than 18 months after University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck was abducted and murdered, we have new insight into the police investigation.

3 years ago


Jed Boal & Brittany Glas, KSL TV

Ayoola Ajayi Sentenced To Life For Murder Of Mackenzie Lueck

The man who pleaded guilty to the murder of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck was sentence Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

3 years ago

Salt Lake police arrest Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, 31, at an apartment complex at 1028 S. West Temple on F...

Brittany Glas & Jared Turner

Expert theorizes Ayoola Ajayi was becoming a serial killer

The KSL Investigators sat down with a retired FBI special agent who said he believes the man who pleaded guilty to the murder of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck was on his way to becoming a career killer.

3 years ago

Salt Lake police arrest Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, 31, at an apartment complex at 1028 S. West Temple on F...


Ayoola Ajayi Pleads Not Guilty In Child Porn Case

A tech worker accused of killing a Utah college student has pleaded not guilty to 19 felony counts linked to child pornography allegedly found on his computer.

3 years ago

(KSL TV)...


Mackenzie Lueck Murder Suspect’s Home Up For Sale

The former Salt Lake City residence of the man charged in the murder of MacKenzie Lueck, has been put up for sale.

3 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Portrait of happy boy playing and splashing water in the swimming pool...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Ayoola Ajayi Pleads Guilty To Murder Of Mackenzie Lueck