SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A University of Utah police report shows that as police investigated an extortion case that would end in a student’s murder, police knew about the suspect’s history as a sex offender but did not contact Adult Probation and Parole.
“We knew he was a registered sex offender,” said Chief Dale Brophy with University of Utah Police.
The suspect in the case was Melvin Rowland — who would murder University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey on October 22, according to police.
It’s now public knowledge that he was on parole at the time. The question is: why didn’t police know it then, more than a week before her murder?
ABC4 has obtained the official police report, which shows more than a week before the murder of Lauren McCluskey, she had told police she was the victim of extortion.
As university police investigated the case, they found that the suspect, Melvin Rowland, “has been convicted for enticing a minor over the internet and forcible sex abuse,” according to documents.
So why didn’t University Police contact Adult Probation and Parole?
Police Chief Brohpy addressed the question during a news conference last week:
“We were investigating at the time what was an extortion case. And did not believe that there was enough evidence at that time to share with other law enforcement. Our current investigative process is to gather evidence that supports the claim, and make contact with the suspect,” said Brophy.
According to former prosecutor Kent Morgan, police departments don’t routinely have access to parole information when they pull up someone’s criminal history.
“And then they’re going to have to draw inferences on whether this person is likely to be on probation and parole,” said Morgan.
“Do they reach out every time they see that? No. Is that wrong and counter-productive? I think most people in the criminal justice system would tell you, yes. We should work together, and they don’t,” added Morgan.
ABC4 left a voicemail and emailed Adult Probation and Parole, but did not hear back. On Friday, University of Utah officials plan to release the findings of an independent review into the matter.