21-year-old student murdered by her convicted sex offender harasser after police ignored calls for help
21-year-old Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed by her harasser, Melvin Rowland, after police refused to act on her numerous complaints.
A 21-year-old University of Utah senior and track athlete was shot and killed by her harasser after Salt Lake Police refused to intervene despite multiple complaints. Lauren McCluskey was murdered by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland -- with whom she was in a short relationship with -- on October 22.
According to CNN, McCluskey had met Rowland at a bar in September and dated him for a month before breaking things off after she learned he had lied to her about his age, his name and, most importantly, the fact that he had a long history of criminal convictions and was on the sexual offender registry.
The break up came on October 9, and after she ended the relationship, Rowland reportedly started harassing her.
Over the course of the next two weeks, she called campus police to report the distressing messages he sent her and an attempt to extort her. She also told the authorities she had deposited $1,000 in one of his accounts because he threatened to release compromising photographs of her.
But when the campus police refused to take any action, she sought the help of Salt Lake Police instead. In her first call to them, which took place on October 13, she told the dispatcher about Rowland blackmailing her but is told to refer the incident to the University of Utah police.
"I've contacted them already, I just wanted to talk to you as well," she said. "Yeah, I was just concerned because I wasn't sure how long they were gonna take."
A week later, she called the Salt Lake Police again because of the campus police's inaction. "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 can be heard complaining in a recording of the call. "They haven't updated or done anything."
Once again, the dispatcher tells her to talk to the campus police because they had jurisdiction in the case. The refusal of either of the departments to act on her information would ultimately prove fatal for McCluskey, who Rowland would track down and kill two days after her last call to the Salt Lake Police. Rowland killed himself hours later after a police chase.
An investigative review of the killing by the Utah Department of Public Safety conducted on request of the Utah Governor's office found multiple failings on part of the University of Utah Campus Police that could have saved the 21-year-old's life.
It noted that the officers in the department did not know how to even look up criminal background or parole information, KUTV reported. It found that Rowland had previously spent more than a decade in prison,for sex offenses among other things, and had been released on parole three times, only to violate his terms twice and return to prison again.
However, the review also surprisingly ruled that the murder could not have been prevented, a finding with which McCluskey's parents did not agree.
"We respectfully disagree with the conclusion that Lauren's murder could not have been prevented," they wrote in rebuttal of the review. "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."