Salt Lake City, UT – A University of Utah senior was murdered on campus by her ex-boyfriend on Monday night.
The series of events that led to the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey began when she met and started dating 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
McCluskey’s mother, Jill McCluskey, said that her daughter had begun dating Rowland in September, but had broken up with him after about a month.
Jill McCluskey said her daughter had found out that Rowland was lying about his age and his criminal history, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
It turned out that Rowland was a registered sex offender. He had been convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the Internet in 2004, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
On Oct. 9, McCluskey ended her relationship with Rowland. The next day, she asked for a university police escort when she went to his home to retrieve her car, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Her mother said the 21-year-old college senior had complained about being harassed by Rowland and his friends, and so she had blocked their numbers and was avoiding them.
University of Utah police Chief Dale Brophy confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday that McCluskey had filed a police report against Rowland on Oct. 12.
Police conducted some follow up on Oct. 13, but Chief Brophy declined to provide more details, citing the ongoing investigation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
McCluskey was chatting on the phone with her mother on her way home after class at about 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 22 when all of a sudden, she began yelling.
“Suddenly, I heard her yell, ‘No, no, no!’” her mother recounted in a written statement to KSL. “I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her.”
Her mother kept the cell phone line open while McCluskey’s father called 911 from another phone to report what was happening.
“In a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground,” her mother said in the statement.
Police responded to the scene and searched the area. Officers found McCluskey fatally shot in a parked car near a residence hall, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
A lockdown order went out across campus that ordered the students to shelter in place while authorities searched for Rowland, going off the lead provided by his victim’s family.
That order was lifted at about 11:50 p.m. on Monday night once university police determined Rowland had left the campus.
Shortly after 1 a.m., police spotted Rowland near the historic Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church and pursued him on foot, KSL reported.
Authorities said he forced his way into the church, and then shot himself, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
University of Utah sent out an alert at 1:47 a.m. on Oct. 23 that said Rowland was no longer a threat, and cancelled classes for the day, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.