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Oct. 23 -- The University of Utah track athlete who was shot to death Monday night was on the phone with her mother when she was abducted by her suspected killer, a convicted sex offender she had previously dated.
Cops say Lauren McCluskey was abducted from a parking lot outside a residence hall by Melvin Rowland.
"Suddenly I heard her yell, 'No, no no!" mom Jill McCluskey said in a statement to media outlets. "I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her."
Jill McCluskey called 911, and a woman who picked up her daughter's phone said her belongings were on the ground.
Lauren's body was found in a vehicle on the Salt Lake City campus later that evening. Rowland was found dead in an apparent suicide in a nearby church on Tuesday morning.
Jill McCluskey said that the 37-year-old Rowland had dated her daughter for a month and had lied to her about his name, his age and his criminal history. She broke up with him two weeks ago when she found out the truth.
He had been convicted of attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet, records show. Rowland was caught in an online sex crimes sting when a police officer posed as a 13-year-old girl.
He had recently left a halfway house after spending nearly a decade in prison.
Jill McCluskey said her daughter had been getting harassed by Rowland and filed a complaint with the University of Utah police. Investigators had been working to build a case against him.
McCluskey, who turned 21 earlier this year, was a "highly regarded member of the university's track and field team and an outstanding scholar," the school said early Tuesday.
She was from Pullman, Wash., and was a communications major.
Her mother said she was Washington state champion in the high jump and school record holder in the 100 meter hurdles. She said her daughter had a 3.75 GPA and was looking forward to graduating in May.
"She loved to sing and had strength and determination," her mother said in the statement.
A vigil is planned for Lauren on campus on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Tuesday's classes were canceled, but the campus, including the counseling center, remained open.
"This isn't right," Athletics Director Mark 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."
A fatal shooting also took place one year ago near the campus. Student Chenwei Guo, who was from China, was killed by an ex-convict who used a gun stolen after another slaying in Colorado.
With News Wire Services
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