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Wednesday 12 June, 2024
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Who was Lauren McCluskey? How she was killed

BY Anas Shah Mar 31, 2023. 11:48 pm UPDATED: Mar 31, 2023. 11:48 pm

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On October 22, 2018, the body of Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old University of Utah student, was found inside the trunk of a car near her dorm.

The case will now be the topic of a new 20/20 program, which will air on March 31, 2023.

Who was Lauren McCluskey?

Lauren McCluskey was a senior track and field competitor at the University of Utah who was born in Berkeley, California on February 12, 1997.

According to her track biography, she joined the UU programme in 2016 after a successful high school career that included an appearance at the 2015 USATF Outdoor Junior Championships, a 2012 Washington state high jump championship, and personal records of 9.50 in the 60 hurdles, 14.90 in the 100 hurdles, 2:24.41 in the 800, and 35’8″ in the shot put.

She majored in marketing at UU and competed in both indoor and outdoor track competitions.

What was Lauren McCluskey’s cause of death?

McCluskey started getting suspicious text messages from an unknown number in October 2018 that she mistook for messages from her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland, and his pals.

McCluskey and Rowland had dated for a few weeks before, but their romance ended when she found he had lied about his identity and age.

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According to ESPN, the track star thought she was dating a 28-year-old man called Sean Fields, but she subsequently found she was dating 37-year-old Melvin Shawn Rowland, a convicted sex offender.

Rowland appeared to accept the separation at first, and the split appeared to be cordial, but her emotions shifted after she started perusing the text messages.

According to the university’s website, the sender of the text messages accused McCluskey of murdering her partner and demanded money in return for not publishing compromising pictures of them on the internet.

 

“She was very concerned and scared. ‘What do I do? Like, is this real? I don’t know,'” her friend Alex recalled during an interview with ESPN.

McCluskey was later found shot to death in her own car on October 22, 2018.

After her death, her family filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming that they did not take their daughter’s complaints seriously.

“They should’ve investigated,” he added. “They would’ve very quickly found his parole status in one call and it would … we wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

In October 2020, the university settled the lawsuit with the family for $13.5million, and acknowledged that they did not handle McCluskey’s case appropriately.

“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation,” U President Ruth Watkins said in a statement.

“We share with the McCluskeys an interest in working to improve safety for all students, not only on our campus but on campuses across the country. With our commitment to learning from our mistakes, we honor Lauren and ensure her legacy will be improved campus safety for all students.

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“We are engaged in making meaningful and lasting changes in our approach to campus safety, particularly in how we respond to and assist crime victims and through focusing on research-based approaches to violence prevention,” the statement continued.

“We believe these changes will build a culture of safety that prioritizes needs of crime victims and provides them with the full response and support they need, while recognizing this is an ongoing process that takes time, resources and our complete commitment.”

Where is Melvin Rowland now?

Melvin Rowland

Within minutes of Rowland confronting McCluskey in the parking lot, officers got a report from her father, Matt McCluskey, who thought his daughter was in danger.

“Suddenly, I hear her yell, ‘No, no, no!'” Jill remembered this in an ESPN broadcast.

“Then I heard her being dragged away, and her phone fell.”

Officers were dispatched to the parking lot, Jill’s dorm, and the nearby area after she described what she had heard on the phone just seconds before.

The institution also issued a secure-in-place alert that included details on the suspect.

Salt Lake Police apprehended Rowland near Trinity A.M.E. Church at 12:46 a.m. and started a foot chase.

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The cops then pursued him into the church, where he fired and murdered himself.

 

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