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University of Utah student slain on campus; ex-boyfriend found dead

By Clyde Hughes
University of Utah student slain on campus; ex-boyfriend found dead
Lauren McCluskey was a senior at the University of Utah. Photo courtesy of University of Utah

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- A University of Utah student was shot to death on campus Monday night. An ex-boyfriend was found dead Tuesday morning of an apparent suicide.

A university statement said campus police responded to a call about 8:20 p.m. about a possible abduction in a parking lot outside a residence hall. Police found Lauren McCluskey, a student from Pullman, Wash., dead inside a parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza residential hall.

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McCluskey, 21, was a senior communications major and a member of the school's track-and-field team.

Police told KSL-TV they started searching for Melvin Rowland, 37, who reportedly had a previous relationship with McCluskey and was believed to have had some kind of dispute with her on campus before the shooting.

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Rowland forced his way into Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City early Tuesday morning after authorities spotted him there, starting a foot chase. He was found inside the church a short time later with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

"Several members of our university administration spoke with Lauren's family last night and I have also reached out to them," University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins said in a statement, adding that campus would be closed Tuesday.

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"Her family is understandably in shock at this news about their daughter. They are heartbroken. We have and continue to offer our full support to them at this terrible time," she said.

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ABC News reported that Rowland, who lived in Salt Lake City, was a registered sex offender and had been convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the Internet in 2004, according to court records.

Police told the Salt Lake Tribune that Jill McCluskey was on the phone with her daughter Monday night when she heard her scream. Jill McCluskey said she stayed on the phone until a woman picked it up and said that her items were scattered about.

McCluskey's parents confirmed that she had a relationship to Rowland but broke it off earlier in the month when she learned that he lied about his name, age and criminal history, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

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