SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – New information recently surfaced about the murder of Lauren McCluskey at the University of Utah in 2018.
An article published by the Salt Lake Tribune claims when McCluskey reported to one of the officers that she was extorted for $1000, the officer, who now works for the Logan Police Dept., allegedly saved pictures to his phone and showed one to at least one male co-worker.
Here is a timeline of events from when McCluskey met her murderer to present day to help you remember the full story. The following information comes from The University of Utah’s website and additional ABC4 articles.
September 2, 2018 – Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old student an athlete at the University of Utah met Melvin Shawn Rowland at a bar where he was a bouncer. The two began a short relationship. Rowland often met Lauren in her dorm and got to know other students who lived there.
October 9, 2018 – Lauren learned that Rowland lied about his age and that he was a registered sex offender. She confronted him with this information in her dorm room. Rowland admitted to being a registered sex offender and stayed the night in Lauren’s room. The next day, he used her car to run errands.
October 10, 2018 – Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s mother, contacted campus security and requested that campus security escort Lauren to get her vehicle back from Rowland.
University police contacted Lauren. At first, she said that she did not need an escort and felt comfortable having Rowland drop off her vehicle at her dorm.
Campus security told Lauren that security officers would be stationed near the building and asked her to call back if anything changed.
October, 10, 2018 5 p.m. – Lauren called back to say that Rowland had dropped off her car at the parking lot at Rice-Eccles Stadium and that she needed a ride to retrieve it. A security escort drove Lauren to pick up her vehicle.
October 12, 2018 – On October 12th Lauren contacted the University of Utah Campus Police reporting she’d received suspicious messages she thought were from friends of her ex-boyfriend. Lauren told police the texts said Rowland was dead and placed fault on Lauren.
Lauren went to social media and found out Rowland was not dead.
The University of Utah Campus Police said the reporting officer asked Lauren if she felt in danger or threatened by the texts. She said she did not, but she did tell police she felt like Rowlands’ friends were attempting to lure her somewhere.
October 13, 2018 9:22 a.m. – On October 13, at 9:22 a.m. Lauren again contacted University Police reporting she’d received more messages she believed were from her ex-boyfriend or his friends.
She told police the messages demanded Lauren pay them money in exchange for not posting compromising photos of Lauren and Rowland on the internet.
Lauren said told police she sent $1000 to an account in hopes of keeping the photos private. University police say the case was then assigned to a detective who would follow up on sexual extortion charges against Rowland.
October 19, 2018 – University of Utah Campus police started the investigation of the extortion charges.
A detective contacted Lauren to gather information about the extortion in efforts to identify possible involved suspects and to try and get an arrest warrant for Rowland and friends who had been texting Lauren.
October 19-22, 2018 – Campus police accessed security video that showed Rowland at various locations around the University of Utah campus.
October 22, 2019 – After the detective had been assigned to Lauren’s case she emailed campus police reporting she’d received additional texts from unknown numbers who was claiming to be Deputy Chief Rick McLenon asking her to come to the police station.
University police say they believe the text came from Rowland with the intent of getting Lauren to leave her dorm room.
October 22, 2018 – Police say on October 22, Rowland waited for Lauren with some of her friends in her resident hall from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. Later the same day Rowland confronted Lauren in the parking lot outside the hall.
Rowland approached Lauren on October 22, at 8:20 p.m. Lauren was on the phone with her mother, Jill McCluskey, when Rowland dragged her across the parking, causing her to drop her phone and belongings.
Rowland dragged Lauren to a different spot in the parking lot, where he forced her into the back seat of a car he had driven to campus. While in the back seat, Rowland shot Lauren several times, killing her.
October 22, 2018 8:23 p.m. – Matt McClusky, Lauren’s father, called campus security to tell them that he believed Lauren was in danger. He told them what Lauen’s mother heard on the phone and called on officers to respond.
October 22, 2018 8:32 p.m. – Police responded to the situation, finding Lauren’s belongings. They search her dorm, the parking lot and the surrounding area for other information about her whereabouts.
October 22, 2018 8:38 p.m. – An acquaintance of Rowland’s picked him up from campus.
October 22, 2018 9:55 p.m. – Police found Lauren’s body in the back of a vehicle located in the parking lot.
October 22, 2018 9:56 p.m. – Campus security sent out a secure-in-place alert that there had been an on-campus shooting.
October 22, 2018 10:09 p.m. – Alerts were sent out every 30 minutes following the first about the secure-in-place order. An additional alert was sent out containing information about the suspect.
October 22, 2018 11:46 p.m. – University police determined the suspect had left campus, and an alert was sent out lifting the secure-in-place order.
October 23,2018 12:01 a.m. – An alert identifying the shooting suspect as Melvin Rowland was sent out.
October 23, 2018 12:46 a.m. – Salt Lake police found Rowland and pursued him on foot into Trinity A.M.E. Church on 239 Martin Luther King Blvd. Rowland shot himself as police entered the church.
October 23, 2018 1:47 a.m. – A campus-wide alert was sent out stating that Rowland had been located and is no longer a threat.
October 25, 2018 – Three days after McCluskey’s murder, the University of Utah began an extensive review of campus safety and police department protocol. University of Utah President, Ruth Watkins said the university initiated two separate reviews – one on campus safety and one “specifically focused on the actions the department took in response to Lauren’s original complaint.”
November 1, 2018 – A report showed University of Utah Police knew that Melvin Rowland, McCluskey’s murderer and ex-boyfriend had a sex offender history as they were investigating her extortion case. But did not contact Adult Probation and Parole.
November 2, 2018 – President Watkins announced the appointment of three law enforcement professionals to conduct two reviews on campus safety following McCluskey’s death.
The university also began implementing reviews to campus safety including the evaluation of housing policies and procedures as well as additional training across campus.
December 19, 2018 – Results from an independent review team were released, showing that the University of Utah Police Department was understaffed, which created an availability issue for McCluskey.
Additionally, the system used to check Rowland’s offender status failed because it didn’t recognize his driver’s license number, and therefore, parole agents weren’t notified that he was breaking parole. University officials shared the review team’s list of recommendations to improve campus safety.
January 17, 2019 – University of Utah released audio recordings from the phone calls made between McCluskey, her mother, and police before her murder. The recordings dated back as far as two weeks before her death. They revealed that campus police had been requested to escort McCluskey when meeting up with Rowland to pick up her car.
Later phone calls indicated McCluskey told dispatchers she was concerned about being extorted and even reached out to Salt Lake City Police Department’s dispatch, hoping it would speed things up with University Police. Another call a week later shows that McClusky never heard back from an officer about her concerns.
On the night of her murder, a Washington police dispatcher transferred a 911 call from her dad to University Police. Matt McClusky is heard in the audio explaining that Lauren was talking to her mom on the phone when she began repeatedly saying “no” as if someone had been grabbing her.
March 5, 2019 – Matt McCluskey, Lauren’s father, traveled to Utah from Washington to testify in favor of Senate Bill 134, which would require colleges and universities to develop safety plans and safety trainings. In addition, it would mandate a statewide system of sharing information about domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault.
June 27, 2019 – Lauren’s parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey filed a $56 million lawsuit against the University of Utah. Their family’s attorney, said Lauren’s death was “preventable” and that the murder occurred due to the university’s failure to respond to Lauren’s repeated reports against Rowland.
Jill McCluskey said that she “tried to work with Watkins to remedy the system and hold individuals accountable” but Watkins never responded to her email.
August 15, 2019 – University of Utah officials announced the university will invest nearly $1 million in campus safety efforts. University President Ruth Watkins said the efforts would include hiring a chief safety officer to coordinate and oversee safety initiatives on campus.
She said she accepted all recommendations from the task force and that over time, the university would invest $925,000 to implement them. The sum was in addition to the $6 million already planned for other measures such as hiring more security officers and installing new security systems in older campus housing units.
Documents state that a Title IX claim against the University cannot be made against a non-student, non-employee, with no University affiliation, as the University would not have control over such an individual.
September 24, 2019 – The assembly of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) passed a resolution regarding language used in the university’s motion to a judge to dismiss the McCluskey family’s lawsuit.
In the resolution, the Associated Students of the University of Utah expressed concern that the University said the University Police Department doesn’t have responsibility to protect students when threats against students are made by those not attending the university. In addition, they stated that statements made by the University of Utah were seen as victim-blaming.
October 14, 2019 – A group of University of Utah students from the campus safety advocate group, unsafeU issued a declaration of protest saying university officials have not done enough to improve campus safety and demanding a meeting with President Ruth Watkins.
October 22, 2019 – The day before the one-year anniversary of Lauren’s murder nearly 200 students stood outside of the Park Building in President’s Circle at the university in protest against the school’s response to student safety concerns.
May 17, 2020 – An article published by the Salt Lake Tribune claims when McCluskey reported to one of the officers that she was extorted for $1000, the officer, who now works for the Logan Police Dept., allegedly saved them to his phone and showed one of the pictures to at least one male co-worker.
The University of Utah spokesperson, Chris Nelson responded to the claims saying they found no evidence of the accusations.
“The University of Utah Police Department completed an internal affairs investigation in February 2020 once it was alerted to these allegations and found no evidence that a former officer had “bragged” or shared any image from the investigation that wasn’t considered a legitimate law enforcement reason.”
Lauren McCluskey’s parents spoke out about their fight for justice for Lauren.
May 19, 2020 – Two new investigations have been launched into misconduct allegations against former U of U officer Miguel Deras. An attorney for Officer Miguel Deras spoke out and called recent reports “reckless.”
“That narrative targets and victimizes an officer without basis and has caused the public to become unjustly enraged over something that never happened,” the attorney said in a statement.
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