SALT LAKE CITY — The man who pleaded guilty to the murder of Mackenzie Lueck earlier this month has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday.
Two weeks ago, Ayoola Ajayi, 32, pleaded guilty to murdering 23-year-old University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck as part of a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.
Ajayi, barely audible, responds “Guilty, your honor,” eyes downcast, when judge asks for plea to murder charge.
— Annie Knox (@anniebknox) October 7, 2020
The case of Mackenzie Lueck
Lueck was last seen alive by a Lyft driver early in the morning of June 17, 2019, after they picked her up from the airport as she returned to Utah from attending a funeral in her home state of California. The Lyft driver told police at the time that they dropped Lueck off at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake where she met someone there and got into a vehicle with them.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said cell phone data traced Ajayi to Hatch Park at the same time. Gill said that Lueck had been texting with Ajayi and that her last text to him was sent at 2:58 a.m. before powering off for the last time just a minute later. Phone records then show Ajayi at his home in Salt Lake City’s Fairpark neighborhood just a few minutes later, around 3:07 a.m.
During the course of the police investigation, Ajayi’s home was searched and police found charred personal items and human “muscular tissue” that Gill said fit Lueck’s DNA profile.
Neighbors told investigators that Ajayi had been seen pouring gasoline on a fire in his backyard that the fire had a “horrible smell.”
As investigators searched the backyard Gill said they found a “freshly-dug site” wherein they discovered a piece of bone, part of a human scalp with hair, and a burned cell phone among other items and evidence.
Lueck’s body was found in July 2019, 18 days since her disappearance 80 miles away in Logan Canyon.
Gill said investigators tracked Ajayi’s phone to an area where investigators found her charred remains just of the main road in a shallow grave.
A medical examiner determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma.
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