Help Delayed = Help Denied

University of Utah, Author University of Utah (CC 3.0 Unported)

Lauren McCluskey, a 21 y.o. student athlete at the University of Utah, was murdered by a former boyfriend despite having complained to campus and Salt Lake City police over 20 times [1].

Lauren met her murderer, 37 y.o. Melvin Rowland, in a bar.  The co-ed ended their brief, month-long relationship on learning Rowland was a convicted sex offender who had lied about his name and age.

Calls for Help

Over the next two weeks, Lauren reported to police that Rowland was sending her harassing messages and attempting to extort money.  She did, in fact, send him $1000 in the futile hope of securing the return of embarrassing photos.

Lauren’s body was found in the backseat of a car on campus.  She had been shot to death.  Rowland killed himself following a police chase.


The University of Utah has settled with McCluskey’s parents for $10.5 million.  A separate $3 million donation will be made to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, and funds raised for an indoor track to be named after Lauren.

The University has acknowledged fault.  It has established a center for violence prevention on campus, and will be consolidating evening classes to improve campus safety.

How the University plans to improve police response when a similar situation arises in future is unclear.

A Cautionary Tale

This is, in some ways, a cautionary tale for our times.

We encourage our children to believe in sexual freedom.  We send them off to college expecting that they will meet new people, have new experiences.  But modern relationships can be difficult [2].  And sexual relationships – particularly those with strangers – necessarily involve a degree of risk.

How then do we identify the predators, the men and women bent on harming us or our children?

A phone app might perhaps tell us whether the attractive man sitting across from us has a criminal record.  It could not possibly identify the countless sociopaths, sadists, and other sexual deviants yet to acquire such a record.

We are left to rely on law enforcement for help when a problem develops.  Tragically, in this instance, that safety net failed.  Help delayed was help denied.

[1]  CNN, “University of Utah settles with family of murdered student Lauren McCluskey and renames its violence prevention center in her honor” by Mallika Kallingal and Jennifer Henderson, 10/23/20,

[2]  Psychology Today, “The Paradox of Sexual Freedom”, 2/6/13,



Filed under Justice, Law, Violence Against Women

8 responses to “Help Delayed = Help Denied

  1. Great post Anna,
    It is a sad story indeed.
    They claim incidents like this made it easier to obtain restraining orders.
    I pray her parents will be a voice to other young woman.

  2. The girl did everything she could possibly do and those who are there to protect failed and she lost her life because of them. This post is a good reminder to everyone both young women and men can be at risk.

  3. Sad story. Repeated daily in different forms across the world. I have no answers of course but you have to wonder whether human nature itself needs to be changed. Genetic re-wiring (with due efforts made to avoid the horrors of past efforts in this respect).

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