32-year-old pleads guilty in murder case.
Ayoola Ajayi, the 32-year-old man charged with killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body, according to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
“The plea deal takes the death penalty off the table,” Gill said. “Part of the plea agreement is that Ayoola Ajayi will spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
Lueck met Ajayi online in 2018 on an app called SeekingArrangement, which boasts on its site, “SeekingArrangement delivers a new way for relationships to form and grow. Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies or Mommas both get what they want, when they want it.”
Ajayi’s attorney Neal Hamilton said his client “had decided that he would murder Ms. Lueck before the meeting took place.” He made sure to turn the security cameras in his residence off before heading out to join the student at a park. He then took her back to his house. As soon as the two arrived, according to court records, Ajayi tied Lueck up with zip ties and strangled her with a belt.
“Miss Lueck protested this and told Mr. Ajayi to stop. Mr. Ajayi did not stop,” Hamilton said.
Lueck’s body was ultimately recovered tied up in a canyon with a hole in the side of her head, indicative of blunt force trauma, according to the medical examiner on the case. Ajayi told prosecutors never had contact with the girl, but they recovered images of her on his phone. They also discovered burned items belonging to Lueck in a freshly dug site in Ajayi’s yard when they executed a search warrant of his home. They located a human bone, scalp with hair, muscular tissue, and a cell phone, according to authorities. A search of the suspect’s computer resulted in the discovery of pornographic images of children, which led to charges of 19 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. However, those were dismissed as part of the deal.
During the investigation, officers interviewed a neighbor who said there was a “horrible smell” coming from Ajayi’s residence. When the neighbor curiously looked over to attempt to locate the source, Ajayi was pouring gasoline on a fire in a pit. In a separate interview, a cleaning lady employed at the residence commented she was leery that Ajayi had cameras throughout his home.
In an ironic, sick twist, Ajayi had also published a fictional novel available on Amazon which seemed to depict real life events. The plot involves an individual witnessing the burning death of his neighbor.
After Ajayi’s arrest, his estranged wife, Tenisha Ajayi severed all communication with him because “he “ot real aggressive” and “threatened to have someone kidnap and kill her.” She was also in disbelief that “he was someone that would harm a child.”
“Ajayi also pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree forcible sexual abuse in a separate case” as part of the deal, Gill said, adding, “The entry of the pleas today starts the process of bringing some closure and a measure of justice to the Lueck family.”