Records: Suspect in Utah university killing was sex offender

Police gather near the South Medical Tower on the University of Utah campus during a search for a man they say shot and killed a University of Utah student outside of a dormitory on campus, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Salt Lake City. The female student's body was found in a car near the medical towers, University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin said. The man they are searching for and the student had "a previous relationship," Wahlin said. (Kristin Murphy//The Deseret News via AP)
Lori McDonald, University of Utah Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, and University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy walk off following a news conference at the University of Utah Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. A University of Utah student was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend, who was found dead hours later inside a church Tuesday, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In the Nov. 19, 2014 photo, Pullman High School senior Lauren McCluskey signs a letter of intent in Pullman, Wash., to compete in track for the University of Utah. McCluskey was shot and killed outside of a University of Utah dormitory on campus in Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Utah Department of Corrections shows Melvin Rowland. Authorities say that Rowland, suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, University of Utah student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, was found dead in an off-campus church early Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (Utah Department of Corrections via AP)
In the Nov. 19, 2014 photo, Pullman High School senior Lauren McCluskey is surrounded by her family before signing a letter of intent in Pullman, Wash., to compete in track for the University of Utah. McCluskey was shot and killed outside of a University of Utah dormitory on campus in Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (The Moscow-Pullman Daily News via AP)
University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy, right, speaks as Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown looks on during a news conference at the University of Utah, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. A University of Utah student was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend, who was found dead hours later inside a church Tuesday, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
This Aug. 21, 2018 photo, provided by the University of Utah, shows Lauren McCluskey, a member of the University of Utah cross country and track and field team. McCluskey, a University of Utah student was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend Melvin Rowland, who was found dead hours later inside a church Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, authorities said. (Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah via AP)
In this Aug. 30, 2017 photo, provided by the University of Utah, shows Lauren McCluskey, a member of the University of Utah cross country and track and field team, runs in Salt Lake City. McCluskey, a University of Utah student was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend Melvin Rowland, who was found dead hours later inside a church Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, authorities said. (Steve C. Wilson/University of Utah via AP)
Lori McDonald, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, addresses the media as University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy looks on during a news conference at the University of Utah Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. A University of Utah student was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend, who was found dead hours later inside a church Tuesday, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
A law enforcement officer walks near the South Medical Tower on the University of Utah campus during a search for a man they say shot and killed a University of Utah student outside of a dormitory on campus, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Salt Lake City. The female student's body was found in a car near the medical towers, University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin said. The man they are searching for and the student had "a previous relationship," Wahlin said. (Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah student and track athlete who was shot and killed on campus by a former boyfriend had filed a police complaint against him after she learned he was a sex offender and broke off the relationship, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators had been working to build a case after receiving the report from 21-year-old Lauren McCluskey, a senior from Pullman, Washington, university police chief Dale Brophy said. He declined to disclose further details on the report.

McCluskey was found shot in a car Monday night near on-campus student housing. Her attacker, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, killed himself overnight at a church when police tracked him down after linking him to the killing through a description, clothing and evidence at the scene, authorities said.

The victim's mother, Jill McCluskey, said her daughter had filed a harassment complaint after breaking up with Rowland.

Lauren McCluskey had dated Rowland for about a month then ended the relationship on Oct. 9 when she learned he had lied about his age, name and criminal history, Jill McCluskey said in a statement. It wasn't clear how the two met.

Jill McCluskey said she had been talking on the phone with her daughter as she returned from a night class and heard her yell, "'No, no, no!'" A few minutes later, a woman picked up the phone and said all of Lauren McCluskey's belongings were on the ground.

"I thought she might have been in a car accident," Jill McCluskey said. "That was the last I heard from her."

Rowland spent nearly a decade in prison after pleading guilty to trying to lure an underage girl online and attempted sex abuse charges, according to court records.

He was charged with two separate crimes in September 2003, said Paul Amann, the prosecutor on the case.

Rowland had been caught in an online sex crimes sting when a police officer posed as a 13-year-old girl. After he was charged, a woman came forward to report he had sexually assaulted her after a separate online meeting a few days earlier.

"He was just out of control. He had no self-control," Amann said Tuesday.

Rowland pleaded guilty to enticing a minor over the internet and attempted forcible sex abuse in an agreement with prosecutors, records show. His defense attorney did not immediately return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

Rowland was released from prison in 2012 after serving eight years and has twice been sent back from halfway houses after violating his parole, Utah prison spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said. He was most recently paroled in April and was living on his own.

Rowland was prohibited from owning a gun on parole and it was unclear how he obtained one.

Initial reports of the shooting sparked panic on the Salt Lake City campus. University officials ordered students to stay in place for about three hours as they searched for the gunman.

University of Utah student Jonas Woychick said he was playing pool when he got a message about an on-campus shooter. He and eight other students waited in a bathroom for two hours until they learned it was safe.

"I didn't know if this shooter was going for other people, or if he was just targeting one person," said Woychick, who is from Boise, Idaho.

Lauren McCluskey was majoring in communication and was excited to graduate next spring, said her mother, a professor at Washington State University, adding that her daughter was a Washington state high jump champion in high school and loved to sing.

University President Ruth Watkins said classes were canceled Tuesday and a vigil would be held Wednesday night.

"As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life," Watkins said in a statement.

Athletics Director Mark Harlan said counselors and psychologists were available to support McCluskey's teammates, coaches and friends. He said she was a proud Ute and an outstanding student-athlete.

"This isn't right," Harlan said. "I don't really have any words. My heart goes out to her family. ... When something like this happens, it defies any logic, any reason."

___

Associated Press writer Paul Davenport contributed to this report from Phoenix.

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