Man who pleaded guilty to Mackenzie Lueck’s murder sentenced to life in prison

Oct 23, 2020, 12:53 PM | Updated: 12:58 pm
missing woman mackenzie lueck...
This undated photo taken from the Facebook page #FindMackenzieLueck shows a Mackenzie Lueck, 23, a senior at the University of Utah. Police announced Friday they had made an arrest in her murder. (#FindMackenzieLueck via AP)
(#FindMackenzieLueck via AP)

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. 


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.


Today’s Top Stories

All News

Those planning herb gardens in Utah should focus on five specific plants -- basil, parsley, chives,...
Michelle Lee

Planning herb gardens in Utah? Here are 5 must-haves!

Basil tops the list of recommendations when planning herb gardens according to USU Extension horticulturist Sheriden Hansen.
7 hours ago
WNBA star Brittney Griner stood in front of a Russian court Wednesday after being detained for poss...
Jennifer Hansler, CNN

WNBA star Brittney Griner released from Russian detention in prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer

 (CNN) — WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian detention in a prisoner swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, according to a source familiar with the matter. This story is breaking and will be updated.  
7 hours ago
Amie Schaeffer

Hazmat spill closes I-15 in Bluffdale

A crash early Thursday morning closed I-15. The accident involved multiple vehicles and resulted in a hazmat spill.
7 hours ago
the salt lake city skyline is pictured, utahns can take a survey about the increasing utah populati...
Chris Jacobs

New survey asks how the state should handle Utah’s population increases

The goal is to gather feedback as Utah's population grows and then the responses and ideas to create a plan for handling that growth.
7 hours ago
The Duchesne County Sheriff's Office says a suspect is in stable condition following an officer-inv...
Mark Jones

Suspect hospitalized after officer-involved shooting in Duchesne County

A suspect is in stable condition following an officer-involved shooting Monday night in Duchesne County.
1 day ago
A woman wishing not to be identified shows her sadness after the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake ran ou...
Waverly Golden

Expert joins Inside Sources on women accessing homeless resources

Emily Darowski, Associate Director for the Utah Women and Leadership Project, discusses a recent study the project conducted on women accessing homeless resources in Utah.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Man who pleaded guilty to Mackenzie Lueck’s murder sentenced to life in prison