Murdered Utah U Student on Phone With Mom When Abducted

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
October 23, 2018US News

A University of Utah student was apparently abducted by an older ex-boyfriend while she was talking to her mother on the phone. Her body was found a few hours later.

Lauren McCluskey, 21, was found dead in her car outside the Medical Plaza dorms on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday night, Oct. 22.  

She was apparently murdered by Melvin Rowland, a man she had dated briefly. Rowland was a convicted sex offender who had lied to McCluskey about his name, his age, and his past.

Her alleged killer’s body was found a few hours later in a local church, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot.    

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Lauren McCluskey‎‏ في الجمعة، ٢٧ نوفمبر ٢٠١٥

Heart-Rending Phone Call

The McCluskeys posted a statement on Twitter describing their daughter and the incident that ended her life.

The statement says McCluskey dated Rowland for about a month, then tried to break up with him when she learned about his criminal history.

Rowland had borrowed her car; McCluskey had University Police escort her while she retrieved it, on Oct. 10.

Apparently Rowland and some of his friends began harassing McCluskey by phone, so she blocked his and their numbers. She then reported this harassment to the University Police.   

According to the statement, McCluskey was on the phone with her mother shortly before 9 p.m. on the night of Oct. 22 when her mother heard her yell, “No, no, no!”

Her mother thought she might have been in a car wreck. She told her husband call 911 while she stayed on the line, hoping to hear from her daughter.   

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Lauren McCluskey‎‏ في السبت، ١٥ نوفمبر ٢٠١٤

Several minutes later, an unknown lady picked up the phone as said that all of Lauren’s things were lying on the ground, but Lauren was not around.

McCluskey’s body was found in a car parked near the Medical Plaza Towers dorms a few hours later.   

McCluskey had come to U of U from Pullman, Washington, where she first established herself as an outstanding student and athlete. She graduated with honors, while also setting a state record in the high jump and a school record in the 100-meter hurdles.

According to the family statement, McCluskey attended Capital Church in Salt Lake City.

“She loved to sing,” the statement said, “and had both strength and determination.”

“She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed,” it continued.

Melvin Rowland had been convicted of attempted sexual assault
Melvin Rowland had been convicted of attempted sexual assault and was a registered sex offender, 16 years older than his victim. (Utah Department of Corrections)

Convicted Sex Offender

Rowland was a 37-year-old registered sex offender who had been convicted of trying to lure a minor into a sexual situation and attempted forcible sex abuse in 2004.

Rowland served nine years in prison before being released in September 2013, according to the Utah Department of Corrections.

Rowland had lied about his name, age, and past to McCluskey, who was only 21. Apparently the two met near the start of the fall semester, but when someone told McCluskey about Rowland’s past, she stopped seeing him. The two were involved for about a month.

Police received reports of a possible abduction on campus around 8:20 p.m. Students called in reports of possible gunshots around 9 p.m.

Police got a description of a suspect, a black man about 6 feet, 3 inches tall, 250 pounds, wearing a gray beanie cap, black pants, and a white hooded sweatshirt the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

University of Utah Shooting
Law enforcement officers near the South Medical Tower on the University of Utah campus during a search for a man they said shot and killed a University of Utah student outside of a dormitory on campus, on Oct. 22, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)

Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin told USA Today that the police received a tip about the whereabouts of the suspect, which the university had identified as Melvin Rowland.

Police located Rowland and chased him into the Trinity AME Church, according to the Tribune.

Rowland broke down the back door to the church and made his way to the pastor’s study, where he shot himself with the same gun he had used to kill McCluskey.

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