Man murders ex-girfriend and goes on a date with another woman 18 minutes after killing her
A 21-year-old student died on her campus earlier this week. She endured harassment and blackmail before her ex-boyfriend shot her.
Boston News reports Lauren McCluskey studied Communications and ran track at the University of Utah. She hailed from Pullman, Washington and was an outstanding student.
On the night of October 22, Lauren's ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland, shot her and then allegedly shot himself. Before she was killed, Lauren spoke to her mother on the phone.
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KTVU released a statement in which McCluskey's mom described the phone conversation:
"Suddenly I heard her yell, 'No, no, no!' I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her. My husband called 911."
The mother said she kept the line open until "a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren's things were on the ground."
According to the University's Chief of Police Dale Brophy, Rowland, 37, and McCluskey began dating right after meeting each other. ABC News reported that they met at a bar where Rowland worked as a bouncer
From early September, Rowley would visit McCluskey at her residence hall. He befriended other students. In early October, McCluskey uncovered Rowland's history, his real age, and real name.
He was a registered sex offender following a conviction in 2004. He enticed a minor and was in jail until 2013. Rowland was on parole upon his release.
McCluskey ended the relationship soon after finding out but continued spending time with Rowland. In mid-October, she began receiving "suspicious emails." She spoke to police who worked with her and kept tabs.
On October 13, Rowland blackmailed McCluskey into giving a sum of $1,000 to prevent him from sending out compromising photos.
A formal investigation showed surveillance video of Rowland following McCluskey around on campus.
On the morning of the deadly attack, Rowland attempted to lure McCluskey out of her dorm with a text. But she ignored the message. That afternoon, Rowland sat with McCluskey's friends in the hall.
Around 8:20 p.m, Rowland approached McCluskey in a parking lot near her dorm. That's when McCluskey's mother heard what she did.
Rowland then reportedly dragged his ex-girlfriend further away before pushing her in. There, he shot her several times.
Police reported that a woman collected Rowland at 8: 30 p.m. to have dinner and then go to her place for a shower. He told her he had been working out.
Brophy described the evening date as the "most disturbing detail" of the case.
"I can't fathom how anybody with a conscience could murder their girlfriend and then go have dinner with somebody else and then act like nothing happened."
After intense searching, dispatchers found McCluskey's body in the back seat of a car. They released two alerts informing students of the shooting and the suspect's description.
Salt Lake City Police officers found Rowland on an off-campus street and chased him until he entered the Trinity AME Church. As they got closer, Rowland fatally shot himself.
The woman whom Rowland saw was not charged, she called the police when she saw his face on the media.
And Rowland's friend who lent him the gun was also not charged as he is fully cooperating with police. He claimed Rowland told him the gun was to teach his girlfriend to shoot.
Ruth Watkins, the President of the university released a statement:
"As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life."
Mark Harlan, Director of Athletics, reached out to any students, especially McCluskey's teammates. The school offered support from counselors and psychologists. He said:
“This news has shaken not only myself but our entire University of Utah athletics family to its core."
The killing follows the death of another Utah University student from China last year. After pleading guilty, Austin Boutain was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
McCluskey's mother described her daughter as someone who "loved to sing and had strength and determination."
In Vestal, New York, Binghamton University mourned the loss of two students earlier this year.
Joao Souza, a Brazilian engineering student, and Haley Anderson, a nursing student, were killed within two months.
Anderson was strangled to death on March 9 and Souza succumbed to knife wounds on April 15. Both their attackers have been detained.
Meanwhile, the attempted murder by Brandon Browner, an ex-NFL player, has led to the possibility of a life sentence.
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