Women Die When Police Don’t Take Them Seriously

Lauren McCluskey‘s ex-boyfriend—37-year-old Melvin Rowland—murdered her on October 22. She had reported him twice to police earlier in the month.

McCluskey was a 21-year-old senior and track star at the University of Utah. She studied Communications and was looking forward graduating in May with a 3.75 GPA. But McCluskey will never get to graduate, because despite expressing her fears to police, not enough was done to protect her from her ex. Instead, she was discovered by campus police, shot to death in her car.

McCluskey’s mother shared a statement on Twitter, expressing her sadness at the loss of her daughter and explaining the circumstances of her tragic death. McCluskey had dated her killer for one month but ended the relationship on October 9 after finding out from a friend that he’d lied to her about his name, age, and criminal history.

Rowland was a registered sex offender, convicted in 2004 on a felony charge of enticing a minor and attempted forcible sexual abuse. He was released in 2013.

After the breakup, McCluskey blocked his and his friends’ phone numbers and reported to police that she was being harassed. The night of her murder, she was on the phone with her mother while going back to her apartment after 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,” her mother said. She stayed on the line while her husband called 911. A few minutes later, a young woman picked up the phone and said McCluskey’s belongings were all on the ground.

Campus police say they were working with McCluskey to build a case against Rowland but that they could not find an address for him, despite the fact that he was living at the address listed in the sex offender registry. According to the Washington Post, campus police simply didn’t pass along McCluskey’s allegations to the Department of Corrections.

McCluskey did everything we’re told we’re supposed to do. She reported her harasser. Multiple times. She took precautions. And it didn’t help. If women are still dying when we do everything within our power, it has to be in the power of police to protect us better. A CDC study from 2017 showed that in 55 percent of cases where a woman was murdered, her killer was a current or former partner.

Why, then, don’t police take women more seriously when they report that an ex is harassing them? Why didn’t police do more to protect McCluskey, when clearly her killer’s address was available?

We’re told over and over again that if a woman is harassed, she should report it to police, but our society doesn’t trust women and thinks we’re hysterical. Far too often, it doesn’t take our reports and our fears seriously. Too often, women end up dead because of it. Like this woman, and this one, and this one, and like Lauren McCluskey and so many others.

Related at Care2

Photo Credit: Steve C Wilson / University of Utah

75 comments

Ann B
Ann B16 hours ago

I use to support the/our police department but since they allow neighbors to trap and kill MY animals I no longer see that same option

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Shelley R
Shelley R1 days ago

Good article.

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Edith B
Edith B3 days ago

Sadly, not much has changed since the fifties, when women were supposed to be seen, not heard, and always obedient.

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Nena C
Nena C4 days ago

''Rowland was a registered sex offender, convicted 2004 on felony charge of enticing a minor, attempted forcible sexual abuse, released 2013,After breakup, McCluskey blocked his, his friends’ phone numbers, reported to police she was being harassed.'' She did everything right, why do the FLAGS still get missed causing death to victim! enough is enough of this nonsense!!

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beba h
beba h5 days ago

The police in my area definitely do not respond in a timely manner to 911 calls. I just got off the phone today lodging a formal complaint after an attempted break into my house and 911 and police did not respond until after two phone calls and a half an hour.

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Marija M
Marija M6 days ago

So very sad.

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B6 days ago

Sorry for the loss. This should never have happened.

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Elaine W
Elaine W6 days ago

Sadly noted.

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Janis K
Janis K6 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Dot A
Dot A6 days ago

This is a heartbreaking tragedy, without a doubt~ And the comments that express the lack of legal protections for vulnerable people who become targets of the criminally-minded, especially those who have been incarcerated, demonstrates that our society has not sufficiently addressed this most dangerous situation, which occurs far too frequently. Yes, the male population is not as invested in correcting the problem. Indeed, the females are in the most vulnerable position if such a connection happens between her and her perpetrator. Yet, the laws are not designed for 'threats' to people, because such actions have not actually occurred. Threats can be real or merely words of hostility without merit. We already are experiencing a weakness in the police force due to low pay, a job which has daily situations that may cause death to the officers, and an expectation that police stop violence without doing harm to others. It's a real problem without a clear solution. My heart goes out to this beautiful woman, Lauren, lost too early in life, by a deranged individual. Sincere condolences to all who loved her~

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