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Guilt admitted in Utah co-ed’s killing

by the as | October 9, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — A tech worker pleaded guilty 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.

Ayoola 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 disappeared in June 2019, after returning from a trip home to El Segundo, Calif., 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.

A native of Nigeria, Ajayi held a green card that allows him to legally work and live in the U.S., prosecutors have said. He was an information-technology worker who had stints with high-profile companies and was briefly in the Army National Guard.

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