Published: Fri, October 26, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

University of Utah track athlete Lauren McCluskey abducted, murdered on campus

University of Utah track athlete Lauren McCluskey abducted, murdered on campus

Investigators had been working to build a case against 37-year-old Melvin Rowland after a police complaint was filed against him by 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, a senior from Pullman, Washington, university police chief Dale Brophy said. USA Today reported that the gun Rowland used to kill himself was the same gun used to kill McCluskey.

Day and evening classes were cancelled in the aftermath of McCluskey's death and a vigil in her memory is planned for Wednesday.

After offers from multiple universities, McCluskey's choice was big news in the small town. He led police on a chase and was later found "dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound" at a local church, authorities said.

Rowland was released from prison in 2012 after serving eight years and has twice been sent back from halfway houses after violating his parole, Utah prison spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said.

"Last night a little before 9 p.m., she was returning to her university apartment from her night class and talking to me on the phone", the statement said.

Police followed Rowland into a church after he was spotted near 600 South 200 East in Salt Lake City at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin told KUTV. "Lauren was informed by a friend about his criminal history, and she ended the relationship with her killer on October 9, 2018".

"My heart just broke for Lauren and her family, because I could have been in that same situation", she tearfully told KSTU.

Lauren McCluskey's father quickly called 911, and her parents left the phone line open for a few minutes, straining to hear what was happening, her mother said.

"I heard her yell, 'No, no, no!" her mom said in a statement. "Start to be a better role model in the community, go the extra mile to help someone in need, be there for each other", she said. McCluskey filed a report and university police opened an extortion case against Rowland, but the formal investigation did not begin until October 19 due to workload issues, Brophy said.

The family of a University of Utah student who was shot and killed on campus Monday night says the man accused of killing their daughter lied to her about his age and his criminal history during their brief relationship.

He spent almost a decade in prison after pleading guilty in 2004 to trying to lure an underage girl online and attempted sex abuse charges, according to court records.

Rowland fatally shot 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey on Monday night on the university campus and then killed himself in a church as officers closed in. McCluskey was found shot in a auto Monday night near on-campus student housing.

The University of Utah laid out the final days of student Lauren McCluskey, who was murdered on campus by a bitter ex-boyfriend this week, and announced two independent reviews into what could have been done to keep her safe.

"Last night, the University of Utah lost one of our own", Director of Athletics Mark Harlan said in a statement on Twitter. Around 8:20 p.m., university police received a report of a possible abduction in a parking lot outside a residence hall. He also detailed the dates that McCluskey had contact with University police prior to her death. Austin Boutain, the shooter, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in September.

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