Murdered University of Utah student was victim of sextortion


A University of Utah student who police say was murdered by her ex-boyfriend told officers she wired $1,000 to an account earlier this month to prevent the release of “compromising pictures” of the pair, investigators said Thursday.

University Police Chief Dale Brophy told reporters that Lauren McCluskey, 21, reported the extortion to his officers on Oct. 13, nine days before she was found shot dead outside an on-campus dormitory. The suspect in her murder, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, was found dead that same evening of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a Salt Lake City church.

Brophy said that McCluskey had ended her relationship with Rowland on Oct. 9 after she discovered that he had lied to her about his age and was a registered sex offender. McCluskey initially declined police assistance in dealing with Rowland, but later reported receiving numerous emails and messages using different names trying to lure her to locations in addition to the extortion attempt. Investigators now believe the messages all came from Rowland, who Brophy called a master manipulator.

“If his lips were moving, he was lying,” Brophy said of Rowland. “I don’t think he told the truth to anybody based on our investigation.”

Rowland was spotted on surveillance video at various locations around the University of Utah’s campus during the weekend before McCluskey’s murder. Authorities believe he was trying to confront her. Hours before the killing, Rowland was in McCluskey’s dorm building socializing with some of her friends. He later confronted McCluskey in the building parking lot, dragged her into a car he had driven to campus and shot her multiple times.

More from the NY Post