New details about criminal past of suspect in Utah student murder
University of Utah Track Star Shot and Killed By Her Ex-Boyfriend
On Monday night, Lauren McCluskey, was shot and killed as she headed back to her campus apartment at the University of Utah, and according to police, her ex-boyfriend was behind the murder.
The 21-year-old senior was reportedly talking to her mom, Jill McCluskey, on the phone at the time of the attack. "Suddenly I hear her yell, 'No, no, no!' Jill said in a statement released on Twitter. "I thought she might have been in a car accident."
That harrowing phone call was "the last I heard from her," Jill said in the online statement. "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."
According to a University of Utah press release provided toCosmopolitan.com, campus police searched the area near student housing and discovered McCluskey's body in a parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza, a residential hall on campus.
McCluskey was "a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar," the release goes on to state. She was due to graduate in just seven months.
The police investigation is still underway, according to the press release, but the suspected killer is 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. Authorities believe McCluskey and Rowland had a "prior relationship," which might have prompted the attack, according toThe Salt Lake Tribune. He allegedly shot and killed her, before fleeing the scene and igniting a manhunt.
He broke down the back door of a nearby church and shot himself in the pastor’s study, one of the church's retired pastors toldThe Salt Lake Tribune. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according toUSA Today.
Jill claims her daughter dated her killer for about one month, but broke up with him on October 9 after finding out that he'd lied to her about his name, age, and criminal history.
"She blocked his and his friends' number and complained to University of Utah police that she was being harassed," Jill wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, University Police chief Dale Brophy confirmed during a press conference that the department had been contacted by McCluskey about the threats. When asked if they could have done more to protect McCluskey, Brophy replied, “I want the answer to that question as well.”
Last year, another University of Utah student was killed in a shooting near campus. Chenwei Guo, a 23-year-old computer science major from China, died after a gunman shot five times into the car she was in, according toThe Salt Lake Tribune.
Some student leaders are frustrated with the schools Housing and Residential Education’s (HRE) protocols in response to the recent tragedies that have occurred on or near University of Utah's campus.
“There have been so many discussions around what housing should be doing to address that in case this random act of violence happens again,” Mohan Sudabattula, a programming assistant with HRE, told the campus newspaperDaily Utah Chronicle. “Nothing has been done.”
The University cancelled classes on Tuesday, "to allow our campus community to grieve the senseless loss of this bright, young woman,” school president Ruth Watkins said in a written statement released toCosmopolitan.com. “Her family is understandably in shock at this news about their daughter. They are heartbroken.” Athletics director Mark Harlan said on the news "has shaken not only myself but our entire University of Utah athletics family to its core."
The school's counseling center and other support resources are available to students and faculty. And the Associated Students of the University of Utah is planning a vigil for McCluskey in conjunction with the Athletics Department. It will take place on Wednesday at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Park Building.
Video: Ex-boyfriend killed University of Utah student, police say
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