Lauren McCluskey’s Killer Had a Long Criminal History of Sexual Abuse and Manipulation of Underage Women
Marlene Lenthang, Daily Mail, October 24, 2018
The chilling predatory history of the man who murdered a University of Utah college student after she broke up with him [see article] has been revealed.
According to his jail records, Melvin Rowland, 37, had a long history of manipulating and deceiving young and underage women into having sex.
On Monday he fatally shot student athlete 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, of Pullman, Washington as she was walking home from night class and fled. He turned the gun on himself just a few hours later on Tuesday morning, after being cornered by police.
The pair met at a downtown Salt Lake City bar and dated for about a month, but she dumped him after learning Rowland had been lying about his name, age, and his criminal past, including being jailed for sexually abusing a minor.
But she wasn’t the first vulnerable, young woman he pursued.
In 2003 he was caught agreeing to meet for sex with a undercover investigator posing as a 13-year-old girl in an online chat room when he was 21.
Also that month he was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl who he met at her parent’s house.
He admitted during his parole hearing in 2010 that he engaged in sexual contact with the girl and refused to leave when she asked him to and forced her to have sex.
He was convicted in 2004 of a felony count of attempted forcible sexual abuse and enticing a minor over the internet and released from jail in 2013.
For the sexual abuse charge he was sentenced to up to five years in prison along with a concurrent term of one to 15 years in the enticement case.
He was ordered to complete a sex offender program but later removed for ‘failing to make progress’ in 2010, according to audio from a June 2012 parole hearing released by the The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on Tuesday.
‘You’d manipulate and lie in treatment and maintain an aggressive stance. You seemed of lose sight of the fact that you raped a 17-year-old girl in her own home,’ the hearing officer said in the audio obtained by Deseret News around the four minute mark.
‘You admitted to having a sexual attraction to teenage girls and adult women you find vulnerable,’ the hearing officer added.
When asked how many victims he had he said ‘Every female I came across dating or met on the internet. I’d say every woman I’ve met…or came across…I used my manipulation tactics to get what I wanted.’
When asked how many he outright raped besides the 17-year-old he said ‘not like that, but being a womanizer I used other tactics to get what I wanted with them. Besides [the victim] I’d say two others’.
He admitted he manipulated an estimated 50 women to have sex with him in the 2012 hearing.
He eventually completed in the program in April 2012 and was paroled in July.
But he ended up back in jail in September for viewing pornography, which he was banned from by his parole board.
He was released on parole again in September 2013 and returned to jail February 17, 2016 after his agent discovered Rowland was using social media to link up with women for sex.
Upon his return he said he didn’t want to be paroled again.
During his following parole hearing, hearing officer Pegeen Stewart said: ‘I think you have, like, a manipulative cycle.’
Rowland was allowed on parole again on April 17, 2018 saying he was done going after vulnerable women for sex. His sentence was due to expire on May 2019.
The horrific murder of Lauren McCluskey shook the nation on Monday.
She had no idea she was dating the con artist until a friend flagged his true identity, leading her to break up with him on October 9. She reported him to campus police twice afterwards, on October 12 and 13.
She was working with a detective to build a case against him but university police said Tuesday they couldn’t track Rowland down in the days before the shooting. He was living at a halfway house near the campus.
He could have been jailed for violating his parole in the harassment, but university police never flagged him to parole officials.
‘We had no notification of any of that,’ Kaitlin Felsted, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Corrections, said to
She added that as of August Rowland was living at the Salt Lake City address listed on the sex offender registry and an agent found him there in August, and had been in contact with him more recently than that.
Rowland was born in New York and adopted by an older couple then placed into a group home when they died.
He went to Boulder, Colorado for high school then Utah for college, studying at Salt Lake County Community College for a year then at the University of Utah for two semesters.
Although cops refused to discuss the details of McCluskey’s harassment reports, University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy said that she did not have a protective order against him.