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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  September 18, 2022 1:00am-2:00am PDT

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>> this was the infamous rating that he had taken from her >>. >> saying this is evidence i have her? i guess you in the ring whenever separated for very long. >> no. it makes me feel very close to her. >> and that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin thank you for watching! for watching >> i'm andrea canning. and this is "dateline". >> she said that she met him in a bar. >> she was smitten. she really went all out for him. >> she couldn't see the red flags. >> it was a heartbreaking case. >> i just didn't realize how much endanger she was. >> one of our friends actually looked him up and was like, this is not the guy that you think he is. >> he conned women to get what he wanted. >> he was good at it. >> he was very good at.
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>> if he had been peaking in her dorm room window. >> i'm being blackmailed from for many. >> lauren kept saying, well, the police will handle it. >> we got the notification on our phone a second lockdown. >> he had been lying in wait. i was like, this isn't real. this isn't happening. >> how do you not recognize that this girl needs your help? what should scare every parent is that this could be going on at any campus across our country. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> hello and welcome to "dateline". college senior lauren mccluskey was known around campus as a star athlete. but few knew that off the field, she was trapped in a minute abusive relationship. lauren turn to campus police for protection,. not once, but several times. most of us would agree it was the right thing to do. so, why did things turn out so very wrong? here's josh mankiewicz with "lauren's promise". ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> graduation at the university of utah inn salt lake city, home of the utes. a time for selfies, smiles and celebration. in may 2019, itty 500 graduates and their families packed the universities huge arena. lauren mccluskey should have been here to, receiving her degree in cap and gown. as happy as her classmates. except she wasn't. and the story of what happened and why is as sad as it is eye-opening. >> this wasn't one of those things where it was out of everyone's control. it was in like a natural disaster. >> how many times two women have to call for help before the university of utah realizes, you know what, we ought to step this up? >> well of the two of you thinking at that point?
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>> i couldn't really fathom what had happened. >> neither of us slept at all that night. >> it's a story that could so easily have ended differently. if just one person had stepped up. if just one more phone call had been made. one dot connected. instead, the repercussions of a preventable murder would continue for years to come. >> lauren grew up in the college town of pullman, washington. her parents both professors. and from early on, lauren was a girl in motion. her mom, jill. >> she could climb trees when she was two years old. >> as lauren growth, she excelled at the hurdles and high jump. a stack of medals tell her story. which paid off with scholarship money from the university of utah. her dad, matt. >> one of the attractions of university of utah was that it appeared to be very safe. >> and they actually sell that. you know?
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salt lake city is one of the safest cities. this is a safe place. >> as part of the pitch? >> yes. >> as she headed off to college, lauren was a appearance dream. a dedicated athlete, studious, not a partier, not a drinker. not active on the dating scene. what were you worried about? anything? >> the only thing i worried about was an automobile. so, i wanted to resort to really safe car. so, that was my only real worry. >> lauren alex on day one of her freshman year. >> so, we were roommates our freshman year. and august, 2015. and we became instant friends. >> alex and lauren hung out together, attended church together, and for the next three years, lauren continue to focus on her studies. her truck events, and her friends. as for boyfriends?
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not so much. was lauren somebody had a lot of boyfriends? >> i would say no. but i would say she did hang out with her friends a lot. >> then came september 2018, the start of senior ear. lauren and alex went to a bar downtown one night. and lauren met someone. his name was shawn fields, and he was working security at the bar. he let the two women in, kept an eye on them throughout the evening, and then as they were leaving, he made contact with laura. >> she's like, i give him my number and i guess we will see if he contacts me. >> he did. lauren told alex the next morning. >> she's like, oh, he texted me and were going on a date this afternoon. >> shawn said he was a car part-time computer science student at a nearby community college. he was 28. a little old, but not a big deal. more dates followed and lauren told her appearance about the man in her life. >> it sounded sort of old
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fashion, the way that he was paying attention to her and asking her out for dinner. doing all of these things. >> yeah, i used to say oh, she's. enough >> you could hear in her voice? >> yeah. >> things moved quickly. lauren and shawn were soon exclusive. when did you realize they were boyfriend and girlfriend? >> probably a week and a half after they met. >> she wanted to be his girlfriend and it made her feel special. >> that special feeling would not last. >> is lawrence prince as charming as he seems? her friends start to worry about her new relationship. coming up -- >> we noticed she was tired. she seemed stressed. you can tell at least, physically in her face, that she was going through emotionally a lot on her mind. you know? with the relationship. >> and before long, her friends had a new worry. >> i was told that he was going
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to give her a gun he had. >> which you in any kind of danger that she would meet again? >> no, we never thought that meghan was necessary. >> when "dateline" continues. ontinues from over 200 indoor and outdoor allergens, day after day. feel the clarity and make today the most wonderful time of the year. live claritin clear. hey, did i tell you i bought our car from carvana? yeah, ma. it was so easy. i found the perfect car under budget too! and i get seven days to love it or my money back... i love it! [laughs] we'll drive you happy at carvana. [school bells] when pain says, “i'm here,” i say, “so are they.”
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ask your doctor about ingrezza, #1 prescribed for td. learn how you could pay as little as zero dollars at want your clothes to smell freshly washed all day without heavy perfumes? try downy light in-wash freshness boosters. it has long-lasting light scent, no heavy perfumes, and no dyes. finally, a light scent that lasts all day. downy light! i didn't win the lawsuit, but everybody knows i wrote that song. flo? gosh, it's been forever. you look fantastic. it's jon. hamm, from the blind date we went on years ago. ah, the struggling actor who didn't believe he could save with snapshot based on how and how much he drives. i'd love to talk about it over dinner sometime. well, i usually don't talk on the phone during dinner, but for potential customer tom hamm, i will make an exception. oh, boy. >> at the start of her senior
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year at the university of utah, lauren mccluskey fell hard for a guy named lawrence prince. and soon, he was her boyfriend. -- matt heard regular updates
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by phone. her friends describe learn as kind of smitten with this new guy. did that come across talking with the two of you? >> sure. yeah. a lot of that happiness was just there already. but she clearly seemed very happy about her relationship with this person. >> but her parents, hundreds of miles away in washington state, new only what their daughter was telling them. it was different for her good friends at the university. they began noticing that the very independent lauren was now at shawn's back and call. >> every time he would text her, she would stop what she was doing to make sure she picked up the phone. or text. >> lawrence friend alex said that she was put off by shawn's behavior when she and lauren went back to the bar when he where he was working. >> he was like, don't forget pick-me-up at two in the morning. don't fall asleep. don't fall asleep. he said it jokingly, but i could tell that he was serious. >> in other words, pressuring her to stay awake to pick him up in the middle of the night, after his shift ends? >> yes. >> the very next night, alex says, came something else that made her uncomfortable. >> he was asking her where are you, who are you with? that friday and she was just
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with me the entire time. so, the fact that he kept asking, i guess was also what bothered me. >> you say something to her? >> i did say it wasn't normal. then i think she thought he would start to trust her. >> so they're brand-new and he's already kind of perth possessive and controlling? >> yes. >> another friend, a graduate student named diamond, was thinking the same things. diamond new lauren didn't have a ton of dating experience. >> she really went all out for him. was really investing, i personally think, too much time into it. telling him or she was going to be and stuff. and to her jet translated as, oh this is a relationship. this is what we do. >> a lot of, were you with, were you going? you ever say to her, this is not normal, acceptable behavior for a boyfriend, or for any man? >> yeah, i did. and i tried to do it as like, i'm coming to you as a friend. an old friend who has stated quite a few people.
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and just was presenting, him calling you are asking who you are with and wanting pictures of people around you is not -- that's not protection. >> and that's not love? >> that's not. no. >> and she'd say? >> she's like, oh, no, it's fine. he just wants to make sure i am okay. >> carmen was in the same circle of friends. she says lauren told her about a fight with shawn. he stormed off and lauren vowed she'd be the one to change. >> she just clearly said to us, i don't want to upset him that we again. i don't want to see him that mad ever again. >> a couple of weeks into the relationship, shawn was practically living with lauren in her dorm on campus. he'd made friends with other students there and so was able to come and go without a key card. lauren's friends thought she was sleep deprived and she seemed sad. >> we noticed she was tired. she seemed stress. you could tell, at least physically in her face, that she was going through emotionally, a lot on her mind.
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you know? with the relationship. >> then something more ominous. lauren told her friends shawn wanted to give her a gun for her protection. >> that immediately -- that was the first trigger. i was like, all. >> a trigger because diamond was then working for the universities housing department. at the time, she was lauren's resident assistant, living in a nearby building. which in any kind of danger that she would need again? >> not that i know of or just when i'm with her, no. we never thought that meghan was necessary. >> it's not illegal to have a gun on campus, but do a lot of students have guns? >> not to my knowledge, but still has to be concealed. so, you have to have a license for that, which means have to go through the necessary channels. from what i was told, he was just trying to give her a gun he had. >> and that would've been against the rules. >> yes, it was. >> and it would been something you had to report? >> yes. and that's what i did. >> diamond says she called her superior in housing to report what she learned. she wrote an email, too.
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the university asked us to make clear that diamond is speaking for herself, and what she says is that the response from housing officials to her alerts wasn't exactly proactive. >> it was a lot of, oh, will going to have a meeting about it. we'll talk about it later. or, just stuff like that where it seems like -- >> it's not a big deal? >> yeah, it's normal. it's unlike, it's absolutely not normal. i don't understand why you're not heightened about it. >> it was one of many decisions that university officials would later look back on and regret. >> coming up -- >> she had called me. she seemed very shocked and scared. >> shawn had a secret. an ugly one. >> she have any idea what she was going to fine when she started searching? >> no. >> when "dateline" continues.
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>> by late september 2018, lauren mccluskey's good friends at the university of utah were increasingly unhappy about her new relationship with shawn fields. >> i would make comments like, this guy is literally not good for her. he throws us off. >> you were afraid of him? >> yes. >> physically afraid? >> yes. he because he was a huge guy. >> and when lauren's friends heard that shawn wanted to give her again, their concern
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intensified. >> we would just tell her, no, you don't need it. your safety is fine. if anything, he's compromising your safety. >> then in early october, lauren made a frightening discovery. >> she had called me and she seemed very shocked and scared. >> lauren had seen her boyfriends i d. it had his photo with a different name. suspicious, she turned to google. did she have any idea what she was going to find when she started searching? >> no. >> because suddenly, shawn fields is melvin rowland. >> yes. >> it was stunning. most of what she thought she knew about her boyfriend was a lie. from his real name, melvin rowland, to his age, 37. 16 years older than lauren. and finally this. lauren's boyfriend was a
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registered sex offender. melvin rowland had been convicted of attempted forcible sexual abuse and enticing a minor over the internet. and so you said, you've got to break up with this guy. and she said, i will? >> yes, she was going to. >> lauren talked with her mom, told her what she learned about her boyfriend and that she wanted to break up with him. >> and she was asking me advice about the best way to separate sever ties with him. >> and i'm thinking you said, get as far away as you can and make sure you never see him again? >> yes. >> that night, rowland should up at lauren's room, appearing in her window and startling her. when he finally came in, she confronted him about his place. >> he was like, i was set up. i was set up. i didn't do it. they're trying to free me. then she kept telling him, they need to break up. and every time he said he was going to leave, he would force himself upon her. >> he's twice her size. >> i would say maybe four, five times her size. he was a huge guy.
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very muscles, very tall. >> so, she would not have been able to resist a fight. >> no, there was no way she could've gotten away. >> rowland state until morning. and when he finally did leave, he was driving lauren's car. so, letting him use the car was kind of the price of getting him out the door? >> yes. >> so, now, how to get the car back? what's rowland going to leave it in a distant university parking lot, where could lauren pick it up. jill didn't like that plan one bit and that's when she jumped into action. >> i'm worried it that he's dangerous. >> jill cole the university of utah campus police. >> okay, we can definitely have someone help her out. can you have your daughter give us a call? >> the dispatcher got lauren's contact information. >> jill had more. >> okay, so let me tell you just a little bit more. so, he was lying to her. >> okay. >> he's actually a sexual offender.
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>> okay. >> and lied about his age and things like that. >> okay. >> and he has her car. so, i'm worried she's going to go there alone and someone is going to hurt her. >> in the end, campus police sent an escort with lauren, the car was retrieved without a hitch. the dispatcher called jill back. >> she texted me, to, she got a car back. so, thank you so much. you guys are so wonderful. i so much appreciated. >> no problem. you have a good night, jill. >> the mccluskey's were relieved. >> we were assured that they would be in essence, on the lookout. so, we thought the situation was very safe. >> they were wrong. and had the known what lay ahead, the almost certainly would have been on the next plane too salt lake city. >> coming up -- >> i'm being blackmailed for many. >> i didn't know her, but she sounds scared. she sounds scared to the two of you? >> yeah.
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she does. >> new threats but, the campus police didn't seem overly concerned. >> that kind of cyber extortion, that's a crime. >> yes. >> the campus police understand that? take it seriously? >> they kept saying it's a scam. it's a scam. >> when "dateline" continues. (coughing) hi, susan. honey? yeah. i respect that. but that cough looks pretty bad. try this robitussin honey. naturally sourced honey you love, plus the effective cough relief you need. mind if i root through your trash? robitussin. the only brand with real honey and elderberry. if you're washing with the bargain brand, even when your clothes look clean,obitussin. the only brand there's extra dirt you can't see. watch this. that was in these clothes... ugh. but the clothes washed in tide- so much cleaner. if it's got to be clean it's got to be tide hygienic clean.
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an. here's what's happening. president biden and first lady dr. jill biden landed in london on saturday, to attend queen elizabeth second funeral. it will take place on monday in westminster abby. nearly 100 presidents and heads of state are expected to attend the service. and legendary after henry civil has died, silver son confirmed that he'd passed away of natural causes in california. one of the most notable roles came in the film, the manchurian candidate. he was 35 years old. now back to dateline! w back to dateline
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>> welcome back to "dateline". i'm andrea canning. college senior lauren mccluskey was stunned to learn her boyfriend light about his name, each and criminal past. he was not shawn fields, but melvin rowland. once convicted of luring and under age girls online and attempted sex abuse. lauren quickly ended their relationship, those about to discover the real terror was just beginning. back to josh mankiewicz with "lauren's promise". >> after lauren mccluskey got her car back from her ex boyfriend, her parents exhaled. they believed the university of utah police, who now new lauren had broken up with a registered sex offender, would keep an eye out for melvin rowland. and lauren hoped rowland was out of her life. a flurry of text suggested otherwise. messages to lauren from people
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who identified themselves as, rowland's friends. they're >> like, oh, why did you do this to big guy? he really loves you. now he is upset. >> the messages seemed to be an ominous anonymous, but lauren and alex wondered if it was rowland, discussing his number. the text told the dramatic story. rowland was in an accident, then at the hospital. then he died. lauren blocked all the numbers and called her mom. >> we talked about it that, he couldn't have died in a car accident, because it would have been reported. that there was a fatal accident. >> lauren saw some social media post from rowland, so she knew he was ended. then she received this text. will you come to funeral? lauren answered, i know he's alive. please leave me alone and don't text this number. i got police involved. she did. and told the campus police dispatcher her features. >> i got a text about, you know, asking if i wanted to go to a funeral -- his funeral. and i think they're trying to lure me somewhere. but >> what did they do about? it >> initially when she told them about the harassment, they
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told her there wasn't much they could do. >> not much because the cops said, the text weren't threatening violence. they asked lauren to call back if the situation escalated, and it did. the very next day, she received an email saying explicit photos taken during their relationship would be posted on social media, unless lauren paid to keep them secret. she called campus police, again. >> university police and security. how can i help? you're >> so, i'm dealing with a situation where i'm being blackmailed for money. so, a photo of me and my ex -- there threatening to send it out to everyone. and he's asking for $1,000.
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>> i didn't know her, but she sounds scared. she sounds scared to the two of you? >> yeah. she does. >> she sounds like she's worried that this guy is out there and nobody is looking for him and nobody is really taking her seriously. that sort of what i hear in her voice? >> sure, absolutely. >> was lauren scared enough to pay the thousand dollars. and then went to the campus police office to file a report in person. alex went with her. what you're describing that, kind of cyber extortion, that's a crime. >> yes. >> the campus police understand that? take it seriously? >> they kept saying, it's a scam, it's a scam. >> police seemed to think rowland's phone could've been hacked to get the photos. and that both lauren and her ex might be targets of a scam. so, the attitude of the campus police is, they're both being victimized here? this is a scam using his phone number and her photo.
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>> yes. >> but this is not him victimizing her? >> yes. >> however, alex says lauren was almost certain rowland was behind it all. that day, lauren also told campus police about the frightening time she caught rowland peeking through her window. they seemed concerned? this is like a boyfriend, girlfriend thing? not a big deal. >> i figured they thought we were overreacting, in a week. >> lauren was embarrassed by those photos and deeply concerned about then getting out. she shared them with campus police and hoped for an immediate arrest. the campus police had promised an update in three days. maybe hoping to spur them on, lauren called that much larger salt lake city police department. >> yeah, i was just concerned because i wasn't sure how long they were going to take to fill
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the arrest. >> for an officer to call you? >> the salt lake post city police followed their usual procedure and referred lauren back to the campus cops, who had jurisdiction. >> university 9-1-1. what is your emergency? >> hey, it's city. she's got a case number pending, but she is receiving additional blackmail threats. >> during the following days, lauren called campus police repeatedly. one officer gave her his personal cell number, and the two exchanged 16 calls and texts. we're lauren still getting more harassing tex, and still waiting for that promised update. and the police response would be what? >> for the most part, it was just so, we'll get back to you later. the detective should be contacting you soon. >> by now, lauren was sworn out. diamond's or her around that time. >> she's like, oh, hey, yeah. just, not even make eye contact. where i could tell something was up, but i was like, okay i haven't seen you in a while and i hope everything is okay. >> but everything was not okay? >> everything was not okay.
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>> then ten days after the break, up lauren received a particularly chilling text. what did you tell the cops, it said? we know everything. rowland let's take savvy. had he found a way to hack her messages? lauren called salt lake city police a second time. >> i'm worried because -- i've been working with the campus police at the university. and last saturday, i reported and i haven't gotten an update. >> okay. >> but someone contacted me today, someone who is harassing me and said that, they know everything. about the police. >> okay. >> once again, the city pd bounced her back to the campus police. a small force with some 30 officers. responsible for more than 30,000 students, on a big, public campus. that day, lauren did get a hold of the campus police detective assigned to her case. alex listened in. any sense, you know, of urgency in the way the detective was talking? >> no. i remember she said, we'll
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follow the information later on. when you can. and the detective even said it was a scam. like someone is probably just hacked into their account and is trying to scam you. >> so, the idea being, this is not really anything to worry about? >> yes. >> now it was monday, october 22nd, another text. this one claiming to be from a campus cop asking lauren to meet him. again, it was phony. the real police told her to just not answer it. mr. rowland who's been stalking her, is impersonating a police officer. and that police response is, just don't text him back? >> yes. >> right. >> don't text him back and do go to where he says. and that was it. >> but not, we're going to go to that place and find him? >> no. >> in the end, it was rowland who found lauren. here he is on campus security cameras, loitering in lauren's residents that evening around 6:00.
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he's waiting for her. holding a black bag. and pacing. two hours later, the cameras show him leaving lauren's residence, heading out to confront her as she returns home from an evening class. at that moment, lauren was talking with her mom on the phone. >> she sounded positive and, telling me that she was going to go home and finish and assignment. when she went inside -- >> what happens next? >> then i just hear her yell, no, no, no. and then, she must have gotten tackled or something, because i hear some noise and -- the phone fell to the ground. and then i kept calling for her and she didn't answer. >> what happened after that would be almost more than lauren's family and friends could bear. >> the abrupt ending to lauren 's call triggers the mccluskeys
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worst fears and a campus white lockdown, as university cops race against time to save her. coming up -- >> i thought she was abducted. i knew her life was in danger at that time. >> my daughter just called us and it sounds like she's being attacked. >> an attack that some say campus police could have prevented. >> the university of utah was not equipped with the detectives that had the know-how and the knowledge to investigate a case like this. >> when "dateline" continues. ladies, six minutes please... this is my life. it's not always “picture perfect.” plus i'm dealing with bleeding from uterine fibroids. enter myfembree, a once-daily pill for women with heavy menstrual bleeding due to uterine fibroids. with myfembree, heavy bleeding went down by 84%. serious risks include heart attack, stroke,
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conversation with her daughter had been suddenly interrupted. lauren cried out. there was a noise. and then jill, hundreds of miles away, was listening to her child being attacked. >> i thought she was abducted. i thought it was him. i knew her life was in danger at that time. >> she was talking about melvin rowland, formerly known as sean fields, the ex-boyfriend lauren had caught in a series of lies. from the family home in washington state, matt called 9-1-1. >> my daughter is at university of utah and she just called us and it looks like she's being attacked. it sounds like he was being attacked. >> reporter: at the salt lake
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tribune newspaper, courtney tanner was the reporter on duty that night. she heard the police scanners butter. >> just heard some crackling, some possible kidnapping. on campus. >> reporter: she drove to the campus and found a parking lot cordoned off, students at their windows. >> i talked to a couple people who did not have any idea what was going on but had seen police. they were scared. >> shots fired. >> reporter: the university sent an alert to students, shooting on campus. secure in place. hours later, confirmation of the worst news possible. >> they said that the student had been killed on campus. >> reporter: the university released photos of the suspect, melvin rowland. the victim was a named. but lauren's friends knew. >> i was like, yeah, it has to be lauren. i knew it. >> reporter: it was. after all the calls to police,
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all the steps she took to protect yourself, all the advice in concern of her parents, lauren mccluskey had been murdered. she had been shot multiple times. her body left in the back seat of a car in the campus parking lot. >> it was almost like being hit with a heavy objects. i couldn't even -- i couldn't really fathom what happened. >> it's still -- it's still, even now, it doesn't seem real. >> i was just sobbing. in my head i was like, this isn't real, this isn't happening. >> reporter: diamond blamed herself. >> i really hated myself. i'm sorry... because i felt like i didn't do as much -- i didn't know what to do, i didn't want to tell her parents or friends. i could have helped her. >> do you have a badge? >> no. >> that wasn't your duty, it
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was someone else's duty. >> now i know why they didn't do it then. >> i've seen police at times, moving around, they've been running, some have guns drawn. >> reporter: police launched a man hunt for melvin rowland, spotting him near a church near midnight. >> the doors were locked. he had died by suicide on the inside. >> reporter: by then, a key fact about melvin rowland had emerged, not only was he a registered sex offender. he was on parole. campus police learned that minutes after he murdered lauren. >> they missed that mark. >> reporter: debbie dujanovic he's a former for the salt lake city office. >> you have to think of parole as an extension of prison. parolees don't enjoy the same freedoms you and i do.
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they are supervised by the prison system. they are supposed to play by the rules when they are out on parole. >> reporter: which means, there might have been an opportunity to have melvin rowland pulled off the university of utah campus and into custody. >> and that would have meant, he would have been locked up and not able to hurt lauren mccluskey or anyone else. >> right. >> reporter: except campus police never checked rowlands parole status. never knew he could be in violation by having a gun or social media account. he spent more than ten years of his life in prison. paroled three times, and twice return to prison for violations. during one parole hearing in 2012, which was recorded, rowland was frank about what had been his approach to women. to show he had changed his ways. >> every female that i came
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across, dating or myth on the internet, i'd say, i used my manipulation tactics to get what i wanted. >> reporter: by making one phone call, university police could have learned so much more about rowland, in plenty of time to act on that information. >> in this case, the university of utah was not equipped with the detectives that had the know-how and knowledge to investigate a case like this. >> reporter: apparently, checking parole status simply wasn't part of campus police protocol. >> the sense that you get is that the university police department was not set up to deal with the modern age. >> the exact sense i got. they didn't seem to have a culture of knowledge, of how to investigate crimes happening against women at the university. things like extortion, sextortion, social media extortion. date rape. >> reporter: a news conference three days after lauren's murder, police chief rafi faced
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questions and defended his force. >> we believe that rowland and or his associates, were threatening her financial wise, reputation lee, but there was no indication in this investigation that he was threatening physical harm. >> reporter: facing a pr nightmare, the university of utah commission to review of the case and how it was handled. that review would how reveal how professionally the system and the university failed lauren mccluskey. >> reporter: coming up -- >> we know that mistakes were made. we know that mistakes were made and we don't. that >> reporter: tough questions for lawrence cool. >> how could the police department that check to see if the guy was on parole? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> reporter: and the latest. >> parents deserve to know that the university would do the best job that they can't protect students. >> when "dateline" continues. >> welcome back.
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despite repeatedly calling campus police for help, university of utah senior lauren mccluskey was gunned down by her ex boyfriend, melvin rowland. now, instead of asking the tough questions, authorities had to answer them. starting with the most crucial. could her death have been
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prevented? here's josh mankiewicz with the conclusion of "lauren's promise". >> lauren mccluskey's murder in october of 2018 exposed to the university of utah two serious criticism. radio host debbie dujanovic. >> lauren mccluskey did absolutely everything right. law enforcement did not. do everything right. they dropped the ball and now the young, budding, track star, has paid the price with her life. >> two months after the murder came the results of that review the university had asked for. its conclusion, there were shortcomings both systemically and individually, that contributed to lauren's death. there were 30 recommendations for change. and then, university president ruth watkins said, this. >> the report does not offer any reason to believe that this tragedy could've been prevented. >> that made me sick to my
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stomach again. i just couldn't believe that she said that. >> i haven't talked to a single person who agrees with that statement. >> it was hard to reconcile those words, with the review's own findings. that there were serious problems with capital campus safety procedures. we wanted to speak with both the administration and the campus police. instead, we were offered an interview with barbara snyder, then vice president of student affairs. >> lauren's death was a tragedy that affected all of us in very difficult ways, and we know that mistakes were made. we own the fact that mistakes were made. the university was unprepared for this. and everybody was sort of slow to get out of their chair and realize how serious this was. and maybe didn't realize that until she was dead. >> i'm not sure that any institution can really, fully prepare for a sociopath coming on their campus and targeting one of their students. >> i don't think there is
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anything you could've done to prevent a homicidal maniac from coming on campus and killing someone. if that had happen in a vacuum, but it didn't. you knew about him. you know who he was. you didn't know everything about him but you knew what she was telling you. and you, i don't mean you specifically, but you as a representative of the university, you didn't do anything. >> i think that's a very harsh critique. it's a critique that's yours to make. >> the report recognized that campus police did some things well. like helping lauren retrieve her car. the review was critical of and understaffed campus police force, that was not trained to recognize or deal with relationship violence. did no one understand that extortion and looking in the window, and harassing text, that's all part and parcel of relationship violence? or at least the potential for it? >> obviously it was not put together in a week that made the difference that would have possibly prevented this. >> remember, even though they
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knew rowland was a registered sex offenders, compass officers never tech checked his parole status. how can the path campus police department not check to see whether the sky was on parole? >> i don't know the answer to that question. i don't know why that didn't happen. >> the sense i get is that each one of these things was taken as its own separate incident. and that no one ever put them together into a threat that was growing. >> hindsight is always 2020. it is i think a correct assessment that all of the pieces of the puzzle were never put together. >> at all levels of the university life, lauren mccluskey's death has had a profound effect. sometimes institutional. sometimes personal. >> there are no words to express how sorry i am at the lost of this precious trial. no words.
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there's nothing i can say to apologize significantly, to have meeting. but we are truly sorry. >> you want to take a minute? >> i wish people could know how hard it has been. >> i'm sure it has been. >> i -- >> i'm sure this is exactly the thing that you least wanted to happen. since our story first aired in june 2019, much has happened. the university police chief retired in october of that year. the officer assigned to investigate lauren's extortion claims was later found to have been inappropriately showing off the explicit photos involved to his colleagues. without a work related reason. by the time that was learned, that officer had already left the force. others were fired. >> university of utah president ruth watkins says she's resigning. >> then university of utah president ruth watkins, whose shockingly said lauren's death could it have been prevented, announced she would be stepping down. the questions about how lauren 's case was handled, never went
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away. university says it has implemented the recommendations in the review to improve student safety and gone further. appointing a chief safety officer, overhauling the school safety apparatus, adding specialized employees like social workers, who can deal with relationship violence. in october 2020, the university settled a lawsuit brought brought by lauren's parents, agreeing to t pay the mccluskeys ten and a half million dollars. >> the university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not -- >> at the time, president watkins finally acknowledged the university did not handle lauren's case as it should have. >> as a result, we failed lauren and her family. >> lauren's parents say their goal was always to get the university of utah to start thinking differently about student safety. hoping other parents will not suffer as they have. >> parents deserve to know that
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the university is going to do the very best job they can to protect their student. and that it's not only increasing a budget or hiring a person, but it's going to be a cultural change were in fact, they really embrace what went wrong and embrace responsibility. >> under the settlement, the university will pay another $3 million directly to the lauren mccluskey foundation, which funds can passivity efforts across the nation. >> remember we lauren. >> the mccluskeys have pledged their settlement money to the foundation, which also champions a pledge called, lauren's promise. 11 words that professors at more than 100 campuses so far have endorsed as a message to students. it reads, i will listen and believe you if someone is threatening you. >> there's nothing that i can do for lauren except to honor her memory.
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and maybe prevent some other parents from going through this. >> colleges look at lauren's case and make some changes -- then maybe -- >> that's what my great hope is, is that it will then lead to some very common sense, much needed changes at colleges. >> big price to be paid to get that far. >> too big of a price. [applause] >> at what should have been lauren's graduation, other students look to the future. it did it stop her family and friends from thinking about the past. >> i would love to hear her voice again. i would love to hear her laugh. >> i tell people, i won the kid lottery. >> and she was such a part of our lives, i would talk to her at least every day.
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>> she was a genuine person. she was super fun. she lived to be with people and to just engage. and it was amazing. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline". i'm andrea canning. thank you for watching. i'm andrea canning and this is dateline. vanessa was a good shoulder. did you go in the army to help people? >> they are searching their company areas. they are searching the installation. >> it's like she banished into thin air. >> i want her back! >> this has turned, the story. >> her family said she was being sexually harassed by a superior. this kicked off the hashtag, i am vanessa gideon.


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