When University of Utah senior Lauren McCluskey, 21, ender her month-long relationship with a man on Oct. 9 after learning he was a convicted sex offender, she immediately notified campus police, telling them he was harassing her and she was afraid of him.
The University Police Department launched an investigation into parolee Melvin Rowland, 37, in the days that followed — but did not tell his parole officers, a fact originally reported by the The Salt Lake Tribune and confirmed by PEOPLE.
Now, McCluskey, a member of the school’s track and field team, is dead.
On Monday night, Rowland fatally shot her during an argument, leaving her lifeless body in the back seat of a parked car near the Salt Lake City campus before killing himself inside a nearby church, University Police Chief Dale Brophy told reporters at a press conference Tuesday.
As the promising young woman’s family and friends mourn her senseless death and authorities continue to investigate, many are left wondering: Could her death have been prevented?
Rowland was convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet in 2004, online court records show.
Released from prison in April, Rowland was on supervised parole, Utah Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Kaitlin Felsted tells PEOPLE.
Parolees are required to stay out of trouble during their probationary period and can be sent back to prison for parole violations, new arrests and even allegations of criminal offenses, depending on the severity of the accusation.
But campus police failed to notify Rowland’s parole officers or anyone at the DOC that McCluskey had filed a complaint against him, The Tribune reports and Felsted confirms.
“We didn’t receive any communication from them,” Felsted tells PEOPLE. “We weren’t contacted by them.”
At Tuesday’s press conference, Brophy told reporters that his department couldn’t locate Rowland in the days before McCluskey’s alleged murder because they didn’t have a correct address.
“I don’t know what information they had,” Felsted tells PEOPLE. “I can’t speak to that. But we do know that [information about] his residence was accurate and up-to-date. He had been released in April onto parole and supervision,” she said.
Felsted disputed Brophy’s claim that Rowland had been released to a halfway house, saying he was living at the address listed in the sex offender registry.
Reached by PEOPLE, Brophy says, “Right now we’re in the middle of the investigation and we’re planning on releasing a statement tomorrow afternoon and until then we don’t plan to give anything out.”
A press conference is tentatively scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. MT, he said.
A Chilling Last Call
In a heartbreaking statement released by Jill McCluskey after her daughter’s death, she revealed that McCluskey had broken up with Rowland on Oct. 9 after a friend told her about his criminal history.
“He lied to her about his name, his age, and his criminal history,” she wrote.
After breaking up with Rowland, “She blocked his and his friends’ phone numbers and complained to University of Utah police that she was being harassed,” Jill McCluskey wrote.
On Oct. 10, McCluskey asked university police to accompany her to retrieve her car, which Rowland had borrowed.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Brophy said police reports had been filed on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13 in McCluskey’s case, and that the case had been assigned to a detective.
“The detective had been in contact with Ms. McCluskey, and they were working to build a case against our suspect at that time,” Brophy said.
On Monday, before 9 p.m., McCluskey was returning to her university apartment from a night class while talking to her mother on the phone, when she started screaming, Jill McCluskey wrote in a statement.
“Suddenly, I heard her yell, ‘No, no, no!’ ” Jill wrote. “I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her.”
While her husband called 911, she kept the line open, she said.
“In a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground,” she wrote.
McCluskey, a Washington state native and a senior at the school, was majoring in communication and was a “highly regarded member” of the track team, a statement put out by the school read.