Testimony from former romantic partners and newly released documents have further illuminated the dark, criminal past of Melvin Rowland, the man who last week gunned down University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey.
Rowland, 37, is said to have lied to McCluskey about his age and his past as a sex offender, which prompted her to break up with him. After trying to lure her to different locations via email, Rowland eventually shot and killed McCluskey outside of her dorm before fatally shooting himself.
It turns out that Rowland demonstrated a pattern of similarly disturbing behavior with others, and McCluskey was merely his latest, and final, victim.
Rowland had a history of leading women on with false stories about himself. He told two women — Hannah Christensen and Vanessa Wilson — that his name was Shawn, and that he was 28 years old, according to a recent report by the Salt Lake Tribune. He either told the women that he was pursuing a computer science degree or had already obtained it, the report said, adding that he falsely told Christensen he'd previously lived in Nepal, while spinning lies to Wilson about his Cuban heritage.
In addition to lying about his age, nationality and education, he also concealed his past sex crime convictions from these two women, exactly as he had done with McCluskey.
“He was really good at trying to say what he thought I wanted to hear,” Chrstensen told the Tribune, “but it never came off as genuine.”
Wilson, meanwhile, told the newspaper that Rowland was “very persuasive,” and both women painted pictures of a controlling man who would do and say anything to keep them close to him.
University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy had previously described Rowland as a manipulator. “If his lips were moving, he was lying,” he said Thursday, according to Deseret News Utah.
Following reports of Rowland’s latest crime, Christensen said she was shocked to recognize his mugshot.
“My heart just dropped,” she said, according to the Tribune. “I’m grateful I was able to get away from him and hope my story can help other women to get out of toxic relationships.”
Additionally, documents released Monday alleged that Rowland twice burglarized the apartments of women he was seeing in 2015, according to the Tribune.
He wasn’t charged over the suspected thefts, but the four reports released Monday by Salt Lake City Police further round out what authorities say was Rowland’s reputation as a liar and thief who intimidated and harassed the women his life.
“[McCluskey] was another person Rowland had duped into thinking he was a great and he could do no wrong,” Brophy said, according to Deseret News.
[Photo Credits: 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.