Former Pullman High School athlete murdered in Salt Lake City

Victim previously had relations with suspect, who lied about his age

Lauren McCluskey, a former Pullman High School student and track athlete, was murdered by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, who she was formerly in a relationship with.


Lauren McCluskey, a former Pullman High School student and track athlete, was murdered by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, who she was formerly in a relationship with.

RACHEL SUN, Evergreen news editor

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Lauren McCluskey, a former Pullman High School track star and student-athlete at University of Utah, was found shot dead Monday night in a car near Utah campus residence halls.

Authorities later found the suspect, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to several reports.

Jill McCluskey, McCluskey’s mother and a School of Economic Sciences professor at WSU, wrote in a statement that she and her daughter had been talking on the phone Monday night when McCluskey was abducted on her way home from a night class.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

Rowland and McCluskey had dated for about a month, according to the statement. During that time Rowland lied to McCluskey about his name, age and criminal record as a registered sex offender.

After finding out about Rowland’s criminal history from a friend, McCluskey ended the relationship on Oct. 9.

The following day, she requested for campus police to accompany her while retrieving her car that Rowland had borrowed, her mother wrote.

McCluskey also submitted a complaint to university police that she was being harassed, according to the statement.

A senior communication major, McCluskey was “excited to graduate in May 2019,” her mother wrote.

“She was a 2015 honors graduate at Pullman High School where she was Washington state champion in the high jump and school record holder in the 100 meter hurdle,” she wrote in the statement. “She attended Capital Church in Salt Lake City. She loved to sing and had strength and determination. She was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.”

McCluskey’s biography on the Utah track and field roster listed her as 10th all-time in the pentathlon and she was an honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Academic team in 2017.

A prayer vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Pullman High School track.

Patti Green-Kent, the event organizer, wrote the location was chosen because of its meaning to the family as a place where McCluskey honed many of her skills.

“She was also an excellent student, friend and very much loved [and] admired by many,” Green-Kent wrote. “She went on to compete for University of Utah, where she resided at the time of her death. The community is invited to join friends to honor her and support her family with love and solidarity.”

Another candlelight vigil organized by classmates is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 1 and will also be held at the Pullman High School track.