Lauren McCluskey, the 21-year-old Utah track athlete who was abducted outside her Salt Lake City dorm and killed in October, had called both University of Utah police and Salt Lake City police multiple times to report her attacker’s harassment before her death, according to 911 calls obtained by CNN.
McCluskey was found dead in a parked car on campus on October 23 shortly after she had an argument outside of her residence hall with 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. McCluskey and Rowland had met in a bar in September and dated for about a month, per the report, before McCluskey learned that he was a convicted sex offender and had lied about his age and name. Rowland spent more than a decade in prison, was released on parole three times, and violated his parole and returned to prison twice. He killed himself hours after McCluskey’s death following a police chase.
McCluskey ended the relationship on October 9, blocked all communication from him and his friends, and even had university police accompany her to retrieve her car, which she had let him borrow. Rowland, though, wouldn’t leave her alone.
Over the next two weeks, according to CNN, McCluskey called University of Utah police multiple to report the harassment and an attempted extortion. She told police that she sent him $1,000 “in hopes of keeping compromising photos of her private.”
However McCluskey had grown frustrated at a lack of progress by university police, who she felt weren’t doing enough to stop Rowland, and started calling Salt Lake City police.
“I’m worried because I’ve been working with the campus police at the U, and last Saturday I reported and I haven’t gotten an update,” McCluskey told Salt Lake City police in a call to 911, via CNN. “They haven’t updated or done anything.”
She first called Salt Lake City police on October 13 after she had been blackmailed for money, per the report. They, though, advised her to call university police instead. When she called them a week later, they told her the same thing.
“I’ve contacted them already, I just wanted to talk to you as well,” McCluskey said in a call to 911, via CNN. “Yeah, I was just concerned because I wasn’t sure how long they were gonna take.”
An internal review after her death
University police conducted an internal review after her death, which the university said was not the result of any individual mistakes. The review also found university officers didn’t know how to look up criminal background or parole information.
“The review team’s report identified gaps in training, awareness and enforcement of certain policies rather than lapses in individual performance,” the university said, via CNN.
Her parents disputed the university’s report shortly after it was released.
“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,” Jill and Matthew McCluskey wrote.
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