A University of Utah student who was murdered by a sex offender she briefly dated desperately sought police protection from him in the days before her death.
Lauren McCluskey, 21, was gunned down by Melvin Rowland, 37, outside a campus dormitory on Oct. 22. Hours later, Rowland turned the gun on himself inside a Salt Lake City church while police searched for him.
McCluskey dated Rowland for about a month, according to her mother, Jill McCluskey. But he lied to her about nearly everything - his name, age and the fact that he was a registered sex offender.
After a friend alerted McCluskey to Rowland's criminal past - he has convicted of attempted forcible sexual abuse and enticing a minor in 2004, according to state records - she broke things off with him. But he evidently continued to stalk and harass her, prompting McCluskey to contact both university police and, later, Salt Lake City authorities.
"I'm worried because I've been working with the campus police at the U, and last Saturday I reported and I haven't gotten an update," she told Salt Lake City Police dispatch on Oct. 19, just three days before she'd be killed, according to CNN. "They haven't updated or done anything.”
A review of McCluskey’s case from the Utah Department of Public Safety determined that officers did not know how to look up criminal background or parole information. The university said such issues were system-wide and not the fault of any individual.
"The review team's report identified gaps in training, awareness and enforcement of certain policies rather than lapses in individual performance," the university stated.
McCluskey's parents disagree with that assessment and said in a statement that “there were numerous opportunities to protect her during the almost two weeks between the time when our daughter began expressing repeated, elevating and persistent concerns about her situation and the time of her murder,” according to KUTV in Salt Lake City.
[Photos: Facebook, Salt Lake City County]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxgen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.