Lauren McCluskey

Jill McCluskey was on the phone with her daughter when the young woman uttered her last words.

As Fox 13 reported, 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey was a senior at the University of Utah. A track star originally from Pullman, Washington, Lauren was a communications major who was looking forward to graduating in the spring.

On October 9, Lauren ended a relationship with 37-year-old Melvin Rowland after learning that he had lied to her about his age, name, and criminal history. Rowland was on parole and had spent time in prison for sex offenses. The two had only dated for about a month.

On October 10, Lauren told campus police that Rowland had been harassing her and asked for help getting her car back from him. Further complaints on October 12 and 13 resulted in campus police assigning a detective to work with Lauren in building a case against Rowland, but authorities had difficulty locating the man.

According to KUTV, on Monday, October 22, Lauren was returning to her dorm after an evening class and was on the phone with her mother. That’s when her mother heard her daughter being attacked. Jill recounted the horrible event on Twitter:

Last night a little before 9 pm, she was returning to her university apartment from her night class and talking to me on the phone.Suddenly, I heard her yell, “No, no, no!” I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her.

Jill continued:

My husband called 911. I kept the line open and in a few minutes, a young woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren’s things were on the ground.

Lauren had been shot and killed. Police found her soon after inside a car in the parking lot of the residential hall.

Salt Lake City police then began a search for Rowland. During a chase early Tuesday morning, Rowland forced his way into the Trinity AME Church. As police closed in, Rowland took his own life. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Classes at the University of Utah were canceled Tuesday, and university president Ruth Watkins issued a statement about the tragedy.

“As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life,” Watkins wrote. “Our deepest sympathy is extended to Lauren’s family and friends.”

Support services are available for students, and a vigil for Lauren is planned for Wednesday evening. Her mother wrote:

“[Lauren] loved to sing and had strength and determination. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.”

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