Man who killed U of U student lived a double life

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SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Melvin Rowland thought he was going to meet a 13-year-old girl to have sex with.

It turned out to be a police officer.

That was in 2003.  The same year he talked a 17-year-old into allowing him to come to her home while parents were away.  Court records showed that he arrived and forced the girl into having sex with him.

He was sent to prison for both of those crimes.

From 2004 to 2018, Rowland was in and out of prison.  He was paroled, but it was revoked and returned to prison.  It happened another time and this time he remained in prison until April of this year.

During those times in prison, Rowland appeared before a hearing officer with the Board of Pardons.  And during those hearings, one can see why Rowland ended up pursuing 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey.

They were dating for about a month according to her mother.

McCluskey didn’t know of Rowland’s criminal past or his age.  He was 37 years old when he met her.  And for now, it’s a mystery what brought the two together.  

But those parole hearings offered a glimpse of what may have sparked that relationship.

During one of his hearings, the officer concluded that Rowland was a manipulative person.

“You were caught writing a female inmate who had been released and attempted to manipulate her to get her to cross the street and wear provocative clothing,” the officer said.  “You manipulated a guard, you manipulated people you meet.”

Rowland didn’t deny what she had just told him.  On the outside, he had a girlfriend and a child.  But that didn’t stop his womanizing.

“I was unfaithful to her when I meet women at work,” he said during the hearing.  “I just got into that.”

Rowland received counseling and sex offender treatment.  At one hearing, he seemed to understand the errors of his ways.

“By distorting my values and living a double life because I wasn’t happy with our relationship,” he said referring to mother of his child.  “And by living a double life I mean by seeking attention from females at work, online, at school.”

In 2015 when he was released from prison, she filed for a protective order.  He was ordered to stay away from her.  But they somehow got past that and reunited.  They had a child.  In August, Rowland requested DNA testing to confirm the child was his.  But court records showed the girlfriend never responded to his request for testing.

October 12, McCluskey was now onto Rowland.  She filed a complaint with the University of Utah police. The police chief said the case was assigned to a detective and was building a case against Rowland.

But Chief Daniel Brophy wouldn’t say if a protective order was filed on behalf of McCluskey.  Nor would he say if Rowland’s name was circulated among police officers on campus.  When asked if police did enough to protect McCluskey Brophy said he wanted to know that too.

“We are investigating that,” he said.

Rowland’s behavior was a far cry from what he told the hearing officer.  He claimed to have learned from his mistakes.  

 “I was in complete denial,” he said.  “I was angry at myself, at the system.  But the underlying thing is I was ashamed of coming back, letting my family down, being a father, a husband.”

Perhaps it was another effort to manipulate the system.

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