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Murdered student’s family plans to file lawsuit against University of Utah

FILE: Lauren McCluskey, a student-athlete at the University of Utah, was murdered in October 2018. Photo: University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a murdered University of Utah student plans to file a lawsuit over her death.

Jill and Matt McCluskey, the parents of Lauren McCluskey, 21, are planning to hold a news conference on Thursday at the Siegfried and Jensen Law Office in Salt Lake City just after filing the suit.

Lauren was murdered in October after contacting the University of Utah Police Department to say she was concerned about her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Shawn Rowland, whom she had discovered was a registered sex offender who lied to her about his identity and background.

Records showed she called for help more than 20 times in the weeks before her death, to report Rowland was extorting her and to complain she was getting suspicious text messages from him.

The night Lauren was murdered, she was on the phone with her mother, when her mom reported hearing the track star yell “No, no, no, no,” before the line went quiet.

McCluskey’s parents have been vocal since her death about concerns the University of Utah should have done a better job of protecting her and taking her concerns about Rowland seriously.

The U. commissioned an independent review of campus safety and Lauren’s case shortly after her death. In December, that review recommended improvements to policing, security and campus communications, while also concluding there is no way to know for sure whether Lauren’s murder could have been prevented. Her parents vehemently disagreed with that conclusion.