University of Utah Track Star Had an ‘Attempted Sexual Extortion’ Prior to Death, Police Say


Police revealed that a University of Utah track star who was killed on Monday was threatened to have compromising photos of her leaked online if she did not give into monetary demands.

Suspect Melvin Rowland, 37, allegedly shot student Lauren McCluskey, 21, Monday night at the university.

The two had a relationship beginning on Sept. 2, but McCluskey ended it on Oct. 9 after discovering that Rowland allegedly chose not to disclose his sex offender status, the media conference’s timeline of events states. Rowland admitted to McCluskey about being a registered sex offender, but denied the false age difference she discovered, according to the news conference held by the university Thursday.

McCluskey reported to police on Oct. 13 that a person she believed to be either Rowland or associated with Rowland wanted money in exchange for not posting compromising pictures of the two. She ended up giving $1,000 to an account.

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“The attempted sexual extortion is confirmed by the University Police Department’s investigation,” Brook Adams, communications specialist with the school, said in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Utah student also received messages on Oct. 12 saying that Rowland was dead and it was her fault, the timeline states. McCluskey found the statement to be false after going on social media, according to the timeline from the university.

Rowland was seen at various places on campus between Oct. 19 to Oct. 22, according to security footage.

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McCluskey also received a text requesting to come down to the police station. The text was claiming to be from Deputy Chief Rick McLenon, but it was from a spoofed number. Police now suspect the text was from Rowland trying to get her out of her dorm.

Police did not help McCluskey get a restraining order against Rowland because it was not clear whether she received physical threats.

Other information at the media conference stated police learned Rowland was able to obtain a gun through an acquaintance.

“According to the acquaintance, Rowland said he wanted to borrow the gun to teach his girlfriend how to shoot,” the statement said.

Rowland was also picked up by a woman he had met on a dating site after the shooting and went to dinner with her and took a shower at her house in Salt Lake City, according to the news conference speakers. The woman dropped Rowland off at a coffee shop in the city.

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“Subsequently, she saw news reports about the shooting, recognized photos of Rowland and contacted police,” according to the statement. “The woman is fully cooperating with the investigation and it is not anticipated she will face charges.”

Rowland was found dead in a Salt Lake City church early Tuesday morning.

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