U. of Utah student Lauren McCluskey was allegedly harassed by her ex-boyfriend before her murder

Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed Monday night, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland. (Photo: Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah)
Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed Monday night, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland. (Photo: Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah)

The parents of Lauren McCluskey, the University of Utah student who was allegedly shot and killed by her now-deceased ex-boyfriend, say their daughter was harassed after she ended the romance.

“It is with deepest sadness that we let you know that our daughter Lauren McCluskey, age 21, was the University of Utah student who was killed last night,” mother Jill McCluskey wrote in a statement to Salt Lake City local news station KUTV. “Lauren previously dated her killer for about one month. He lied to her about his name, his age and his criminal history. Lauren was informed by a friend about his criminal history, and she ended the relationship with her killer on Oct. 9, 2018. He had borrowed her car, and she requested for the University of Utah police accompany her on Oct. 10, 2018 to get the car back. She blocked his and his friends’ phone numbers and complained to University of Utah police that she was being harassed.”

Jill also revealed that she was on the phone with Lauren when she was killed: “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. Suddenly, I heard her yell, ‘No, no, no!’ I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her. My husband called 911. I kept the line open and in a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground.”

“Lauren was a senior student athlete on the University of Utah track team. She was an outstanding student with a 3.7 GPA majoring in Communication and was excited to graduate in May 2019. She was a 2015 honors graduate of Pullman High School where she was Washington state champion in the high jump and the school record holder in the 100-meter hurdles. She attended Capital Church in Salt Lake City. She loved to sing and had strength and determination. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.”

On Monday, Lauren, of Pullman, Wash., was found dead inside a parked car outside a campus dorm, according to a statement Tuesday from the University of Utah. “Around 8:20 p.m., university police received a report of a possible abduction in a parking lot outside a residence hall,” wrote the president of the university, Ruth V. Watkins. “Police responded and as they searched the area, they discovered Lauren deceased in a parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza, a residential hall on campus. Police issued a secure-in-place order for campus as they searched for a suspect. That order remained in effect until just before midnight, after police determined the suspect had left the area. He was later found deceased at an off-campus location.”

Lauren’s alleged killer, Melvin Rowland, 37, was found dead by suicide inside a Salt Lake City church in the early hours of Tuesday. The university, which canceled classes for the day, tweeted an alert that Rowland was “no longer a threat.”

According to Desert News, Rowland was convicted in 2004 of forcible sexual abuse and enticing a minor, for which he was handed concurrent prison sentences and placed on Utah’s sex offender registry. The news outlet also reported that since 2004, two women have filed for protective orders against Rowland.

On Tuesday, per various reports, Chief Dale Brophy of the University of Utah police revealed that Lauren had filed an Oct. 12 police report for harassment against Rowland and that investigators were gathering details for a case. A representative of the police department tells Yahoo Lifestyle that additional details aren’t available during an active investigation.

Statistics presented by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show that almost 20 people per minute experience physical abuse by a romantic partner in the United States and 72 percent of murder-suicides involve a romantic partner, with 94 percent of the victims being female.

In Utah, where Lauren’s life ended and a Chinese University of Utah student named Chenwei Guo, 23, was murdered during a carjacking near campus last year, 32 percent of state homicides are connected to domestic violence, as reported in 2014 by the Utah Department of Health.

Noting that October is Dating and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Twitter protested Lauren’s “preventable” murder.

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