Lauren McCluskey, 21, was on a phone call with her mother when she was attacked and killed late on Monday night. The suspect is Melvin Rowland, an ex-boyfriend whom she had allegedly only dated for a month. McCluskey had reportedly ended the relationship after discovering Rowland had lied to her. Melvin Rowland was later found dead, from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A senior from Pullman, Washington, Lauren McCluskey was talking to her mother on Monday night after returning from an evening class at the University of Utah. During the conversation, her mother heard her daughter suddenly exclaim, “No, no, no,” according to Fox News. When there was no response after that, Lauren’s father called 911 while his wife kept the line open between herself and their daughter.
Lauren’s body was found soon after gunshots were heard on campus and police then began their pursuit of the suspect, Melvin Rowland.
After a short search by police, Rowland’s body was discovered in an off-campus church in downtown Salt Lake City.
University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin issued a statement saying that McCluskey and Rowland appeared to have an argument around 9 p.m. on Monday night. Her body was discovered shortly before 10 p.m. Rowland was spotted on campus around 1 a.m. and a police pursuit discovered his body sometime after that. However, by 1.47 a.m. an alert was sent to students at the University of Utah reporting that there was “no longer a threat.”
JUST IN: Jill McCluskey, mother of murdered @UUtah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey just sent us this statement about her daughter’s death and the history with her suspected killer 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. #ksltv pic.twitter.com/L6Lk0ROO5L— Shara Park (@KSLSharaPark) October 23, 2018
In a statement issued by Lauren’s family, and published by KUTV, Lauren had dated Rowland briefly but she had ended the relationship on the grounds she had discovered he had lied to her about his previous criminal record. According to Fox News, Rowland was “convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the Internet in 2004.” After serving jail time, he was released in 2013.
“Lauren was informed by a friend about his criminal history, and she ended the relationship with her killer on October 9, 2018,” the statement read. “She blocked his and his friends’ phone numbers and complained to the University of Utah police that she was being harassed.”
It is also believed that Rowland lied to Lauren about his name and age, according to the family’s statement.
According to Fox News, McCluskey was a track and field athlete who majored in communication. She was expected to graduate in 2019.
Athletics Director Mark Harlan has stated that counselors and psychologists were available on campus to those who required their services.