On October 22, 2018, Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old University of Utah student and star track athlete, was slain in the most brutal of ways. The communications major was walking back to her residence hall after night class when her ex-boyfriend abducted her, dragged her away, and then shot her to death in the backseat of the car he had driven to campus. Melvin Rowland, the ex-boyfriend, had previously also been threatening and stalking Lauren with his friends’ apparent help. All this and much more is profiled on NBC’s ‘Dateline: Lauren’s Promise.’ So, let’s just focus on Melvin and how he died, shall we?
Who Was Melvin Rowland?
Melvin Shawn Rowland met Lauren McCluskey at London Belle, a Salt Lake City bar where he was working as a bouncer, on September 2, 2018. When they first introduced themselves to one another, Melvin gave her a fake name and age and didn’t disclose the fact that he was a convicted sex offender out on parole. The two of them subsequently began dating, and Melvin often visited his girlfriend in her dorm room, getting to know her and her friends on a deeper level. According to Lauren’s parents, Jill and Matt, Melvin swept her off her feet with his old-fashioned charm before things took a turn for the worst.
First, there was the controlling behavior. Melvin had to know where Lauren was at all times, what she was wearing, and who she was with. If he didn’t approve of any of it, it resulted in a fight. Then, on October 9, Lauren found out who her boyfriend really was. Melvin had said that he was 28-years-old when he was, in fact, over 37. And because he also hid his extensive criminal record from her, including time served for sexual assault, Lauren immediately ended their relationship. Thus started the extortion, abuse, and threats. Over the next two weeks, CCTV footage proved that Melvin also stalked Lauren.
How Did Melvin Rowland Die?
— Univ of Utah News (@UofUNews) October 23, 2018
On October 22, 2018, ten days after Lauren first filed a report with the campus police about getting harassed, naming her then ex-boyfriend Melvin as the possible suspect, he waited for her at her residence hall with some of her friends. After three hours of idling, he left, only to return at 8:20 p.m., approaching Lauren while she talked to her mother on call. Melvin confronted his ex and then dragged her to a different spot in the parking lot, where he forced her into the backseat of his vehicle. While Lauren was there, struggling, Melvin shot her several times, killing her almost instantly.
Twenty minutes later, at 8:38 p.m. to be exact, Melvin Rowland was picked up from the campus by an acquaintance. Because the University of Utah Police already knew about the threat Melvin posed, they informed the city police, who subsequently found him at 12:40 a.m. on October 23. Officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department pursued the suspected shooter on foot into the Trinity A.M.E. Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. However, before they could truly apprehend him, Melvin shot himself to death as well. This incident transpired just as the police entered the church.
Read More: Lauren McCluskey’s Lawsuit Details