SALT LAKE CITY — During a hearing Wednesday, suspected murderer Ayoola Ajayi plead guilty to the murder of Mackenzie Lueck.
Ajayi plead guilty to charges of criminal homicide, aggravated murder and abuse or desecration of a human body.
“Yes, your honor. Guilty your honor,” Ajayi said.
In exchange for his guilty plea, Ajayi will no longer face the death penalty and will face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Lueck, a 23-year-old University of Utah student, went missing after returning to Salt Lake City on June 17.
“This is a case that riveted our community,” Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill said.
Social media and phone activity from Lueck's accounts ceased around 3 a.m., shortly after she was last seen at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake. She had taken a Lyft to the park and the driver told police she willingly got into a vehicle and left the park with someone that morning.
Authorities began investigating Ajayi and neighbors said they had seen him burning something in his backyard, using gasoline as an accelerant, on June 17 and 18.
After a citywide search, Lueck's charred remains were found in Logan Canyon on July 3.
“Bringing a resolution and accountability here is not only important to the community at large but most important to her family who can now move on, and try to move on with their lives,” Gill said.
Lueck’s family approved of the plea agreement. While they asked for privacy, Lueck’s friend Jordan Forsyth told FOX13, “While nothing will take away the sting of what was done to our friend, I am relieved to see justice served.”
Ajayi will be sentenced later this month.
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