Slain Student’s Family Says University Failed To Protect Her

Dec 20, 2018, 5:14 PM | Updated: 8:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The University of Utah missed multiple chances to prevent the death of a student shot by her ex-boyfriend on campus, and officials who missed the warning signs should be held accountable, her family said Thursday.

University police and housing officials failed to take Lauren McCluskey’s case seriously enough and act on warnings that her ex-boyfriend was dangerous before he shot her to death on campus two months ago, her parents said.

Jill and Matthew McCluskey said they “respectfully disagree” with the institution’s conclusion that her death could not have been prevented.

PDF: McCluskey Family Responses to Independent Reviews

“This situation cries out for accountability beyond updating policies and training,” Jill and Matthew McCluskey said in a statement.

It comes a day after an independent review found multiple missed warning signs before the shooting. The university said understaffing and lack of training was to blame, and it didn’t discipline anyone.

Lauren McCluskey died Monday. Photo credit: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah

Lauren McCluskey. Photo credit: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah

University president Ruth Watkins pledged to act on the report’s findings, but she said there’s no reason to believe “master manipulator” Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37, could have been stopped.

The school stayed that course on Thursday, though officials said they had read the family’s response and given it to the review team of top law-enforcement veterans.

Lauren McCluskey’s parents said she could have been protected if officials had recognized and acted on signs that things were growing increasingly dangerous.

The reports began more than a month before her death, when her friends told housing officials that he was controlling and talking about guns. That report never made it to police because of bureaucratic snafus and concerns about overstepping into Lauren McCluskey’s private life.

Ten days later, her mother called university police saying she was worried about her daughter’s safety and requesting an officer accompany Lauren McCluskey as she got her car back from her ex-boyfriend.

On Oct. 12, the 21-year-old woman told police that Rowland’s friends appeared to be trying to lure her off campus into a trap with fake texts. In the days that followed, she reported he was extorting her by threatening to post compromising photos of her online. At one point, he posed as a police officer in an apparent attempt to get her to leave her university apartment.

She was told there was little officers could do without a direct physical threat, and they didn’t seem to realize it was an ongoing, escalating case, her parents wrote: “Each of the several times Lauren called the police, it was like the first time.”

Police also did not run searches that could have told them he was a recent parolee.

The McCluskeys called on the university to make serious improvements to protect women in violent relationships as well discipline police and housing staff involved in her case.

The university, for its part, said police had taken the case seriously, and Watkins added the campus police chief has her full confidence. She has pledged to hire more officers and increase training as well as streamline communications between housing officials and police and begin running checks that identify ex-convicts. State officials have said that might not have resulted in his arrest, however, because he was otherwise obeying the conditions of his parole.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Matt Gephardt being shown the double payments that Terry Hutchings has been getting....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps homeowner being charged two bills for one security system

Billing for a previous home initially stopped when she sold it, but when she got a new security system from the same provider for her new place a year later it started billing for both

5 hours ago

The Utah State Hospital sign in Provo, Utah....

Daniel Woodruff

A developer has big plans for the Utah State Hospital property

The latest effort to move the Utah State Hospital for a new development plan has failed this legislative session.

5 hours ago

Utah County residents vote in-person during the 2020 General Election on Nov. 3, 2020. (KSL-TV)...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah Senate rejects effort to end ranked choice voting early

Utah’s experiment with ranked choice voting will continue after a bill that would have ended the pilot program two years early failed to pass.

6 hours ago

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced February 29 that Heritage Store Hydrogen Peroxide ...

John Towfighi, CNN

Mouthwash recalled nationwide over poisoning risk

One brand of hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is being recalled nationwide for posing a potential poisoning risk for children.

8 hours ago

Comiske riding her stationary bike, something she does every morning....

Emma Benson

Strategies to lengthen your life

The CDC says, on average, women tend to live 5-7 years longer than men because men higher rate of cardiovascular disease, but there are simple, healthy ways to increase your life expectancy.

9 hours ago

A mother holding a newborn in a hospital bed...

Shelby Lofton

Utah family chooses Leap Day for their daughter’s birthday

A Utah family celebrated the birth of their new baby girl who was born on a day that only comes every four years.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Slain Student’s Family Says University Failed To Protect Her