Saturday, April 27, 2019

Timeline Series: The Murder of Lauren McCluskey

Lauren McCluskey (21)

Lauren McCluskey was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland (37) on October 22nd, 2018. The University of Utah student and track-and-field athlete only dated Melvin for about a month, until Lauren found out that Melvin had a plethora of secrets he had kept from her. This case is on the List Series post about break-up violence and a longer write-up about the case can be found here. Below, an extensive timeline is provided.

September 2nd, 2018: Lauren meets Melvin Rowland--who tells her his name is Shawn--at a bar in Salt Lake City, where Melvin worked as a bouncer. The two immediately hit it off and become a couple within days of dating.

Melvin Rowland

September 2018: As their relationship progresses, Melvin begins to frequently visit Lauren at her residence hall on the University of Utah campus and he starts forming friendships with Lauren's friends and other students around campus.

The University of Utah campus, where Lauren was enrolled as a student

September 30th, 2018: Two of Lauren's friends speak with their dorm building's RA to report that they are concerned about Lauren dating a man who was much older than he said he was, and that he was trying to control her.

October 2nd, 2018: A housing report is submitted regarding the concerns about Lauren.

Redacted housing report 

October 2nd-9th, 2018: At some point throughout the reports, Lauren finds out that Melvin is unfortunately not the person she thought he was. She learned that Melvin lied about his age and his prior felony convictions for forcible attempted sexual assault and enticing a minor. Lauren decides to end her relationship with Melvin as a result.

Melvin Rowland mugshot

October 9th, 2018: Lauren invites Melvin to her dorm building so she can end her relationship with him. She confronted him with the information she learned, and he reportedly admitted to being a sex offender but denied that he was 37 years old. Despite ending the relationship, Lauren allows Melvin to spend the night in her dorm room and agrees to let him borrow her car the following day.

October 10th, 2018: Lauren's mother calls the university's campus security and asks an officer to escort Lauren to retrieve her car from Melvin. Campus security contacts Lauren, who declines their assistance. She tells them that Melvin was going to drop her car off at her building and she was comfortable with him doing so. Around 5pm, though, Lauren contacts campus security and tells them that her car had been dropped off at the Rice-Eccles stadium and she needed somebody to escort her to pick it up. A security officer later picks her up and takes her to get her car.

October 12th, 2018: Lauren contacts campus police to report that she was receiving text messages that stated Melvin was dead, and that it was her fault. She explains that she was able to verify via social media that the messages were untrue; but she still felt that Melvin's friends were trying to lure her out of her dorm.

Excerpt from the incident report (

October 13th, 2018: Lauren contacts campus police again and tells them that she was receiving text messages from someone threatening to post explicit pictures of her and Melvin together unless she paid them $1000. She ended up wiring the money before she went to Public Safety building to file an official complaint.

Another excerpt from the incident report

October 19th, 2018: A campus police detective contacts Lauren to talk about the extortion investigation. She tells the detective that she believes Melvin was the person trying to extort her. She had recently received more threatening voicemails, and she had recognized Melvin's voice. The detective explains to her that subpoenas would need to be field and that the process would take some time. 

That same day, Lauren later called Salt Lake City police to express concern that campus police were not moving fast enough on her case.

October 22nd, 2018 10:39am: Lauren e-mails detectives stating that she had received texts from a person claiming to be Deputy Chief Rick McLenon, asking her to meet him at a police station. Police confirmed that the messages were fake.

October 22nd, 2018 8:20pm: Lauren is on the phone with her mother as she is walking to a night class when she is confronted by Melvin in the parking lot. He grabbed her, causing Lauren to drop all of her personal belongings, and dragged her to a nearby car. Once Melvin forced Lauren inside the car, he drove away and then he shot her multiple times in the head, killing her. 

Residence hall where Lauren resided

October 22nd, 2018 8:23pm: Lauren's father calls police dispatch and explains that he believes his daughter is in danger.

October 22nd, 2018 8:32pm: Officers arrive at Lauren's dorm building and find her belongings scattered across the parking lot. Back-up is called, and a search for Lauren in the dorm building and surrounding areas is begun. 

October 22nd, 2018 8:38pm: Melvin calls an acquaintance he met on a dating site and asks her to come pick him up at the campus. The two went to dinner together before returning to the woman's home where Melvin took a shower. Afterwards, she dropped him off at a coffee shop. 

October 22nd, 2018 9:55pm: Police find Lauren's body in a car on campus. 

October 22nd, 2018 9:56pm: A secure-in-place alert was set on campus. News about Lauren's shooting death begins to circulate. 

October 22nd, 2018 10:09pm: A description of the suspect is released. The woman who picked Melvin up on campus sees news reports about the shooting and calls the police.

October 22nd, 2018 11:46pm: The secure-in-place alert is lifted after it was determined Melvin had left the campus.

October 23rd, 2018 12:46pm: Police spot Melvin and pursue him on foot. He runs into Trinity AME Church and fatally shoots himself. 

Church where Melvin Rowland shot himself while running from police

Police were unfortunately never able to charge Melvin for Lauren's murder. Many people feel that the police failed to protect Lauren. In a written statement, her parents said, “There were numerous opportunities to protect her during the almost two weeks between the time when our daughter began expressing repeated, elevating, and persistent concerns about her situation and the time of her murder.”

It's an unfortunate reality that many women are required take extra safety precautions in order to protect themselves from predators--even in places where they normally feel safe. Self defense kits and other resources are available here.

1 comment:

  1. This is so sad from beginning to end. Sexual predators don't change their nature. I agree with her parents, that law enforcement had opportunities to protect her. Stalking is a crime requiring immediate intervention.