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Man pleads guilty to murdering University of Utah student MacKenzie Lueck

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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Utah man to spend life in prison in slaying of college student Mackenzie Lueck

Mackenzie Lueck’s charred remains were found in a shallow grave in Utah.

A Utah man will spend life in prison as part of his guilty plea in the killing of college student Mackenzie Lueck, whose charred body was left in a shallow grave, prosecutors said.

Ayoola Ajayi on Wednesday pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body in connection to Lueck’s June 2019 slaying.

Lueck, a 23-year-old kinesiology major at the University of Utah, met Ajayi on a “sugar daddy” dating website called Seeking Arrangement, according to Ajayi’s lawyer.

Lueck had been missing for nearly two weeks by the time Ajayi was arrested.

“Ayoola Ajayi also pled guilty to Forcible Sex Abuse in a separate case,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement on Wednesday. “Part of the Plea Agreement is that Ayoola Ajayi will spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

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

In June 2019, after connecting on the “sugar daddy” site, Ajayi and Lueck met at a park. They then went to Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home where he killed her and buried her in his yard, Ajayi’s lawyer Neal Hamilton said, according to The Associated Press.

After police came to question Ajayi, he moved her body to Logan Canyon, over 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Lueck’s charred remains were recovered in July 2019 in a shallow grave in Logan Canyon. Her arms were bound behind her back by a zip tie and rope, prosecutors said.

No motive was released, prosecutors said.

Ajayi will be formally sentenced on Oct. 23, prosecutors said. His attorney could not immediately be reached by ABC News for comment.

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

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 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 the slaying before the meeting at the park and turned off the video in his home-security system before he left to meet her, his lawyer Neal Hamilton said. When they returned to his Salt Lake City home, Ajayi tied her up and began to choke her. She tried to stop him, after which he put a belt around her neck, pushed her onto her stomach and strangled her, the attorney said.

Ajayi then burned her body and buried it in his backyard, Hamilton said. After detectives came to his door to question him, he dug her up and buried her in a shallow grave in