Murdered Utah student's parents disagree with review, say death could have been prevented
(KUTV) — The parents of a student shot and murdered on the University of Utah campus, wrote a response that disagrees with parts of an independent review of her killing.
"We respectfully disagree with the conclusion that Lauren’s murder could not have been prevented," wrote Jill and Matthew McCluskey, Lauren's parents. "There were numerous opportunities to protect her during the almost two weeks between the time when our daughter began expressing repeated, elevating, and persistent concerns about her situation and the time of her murder."
Lauren McCluskey briefly dated a man who misrepresented his age and criminal background to the U of U track and field athlete. She was shot and killed Oct. 22 as she was heading to her apartment. She was on the phone with her mother at the time when she was confronted and then killed by a man who later took his own life.
The three-page, written response highlights specific incidents or warnings that it says should have led to action from the University of Utah Police Department.
Jill and Matthew McCluskey also praised the university, specifically the athletics, track and field and the communication department.
"Writing this response was difficult for us," they wrote while highlighting both general and specific observations they feel allowed the killing of their daughter.
The letter cites specific warnings shared by Lauren and Jill McCluskey to police at UUPD, including belief that the athlete was being lured out of her apartment by a man police were told was dangerous, a sex offender, a bad person and capable of hurting Lauren.
The response letter says police didn't take Lauren McCluskey's reports seriously and classified her case as an extortion case, not one of personal safety, despite repeated calls. It paints a picture of a police force who ignored her calls and reported threats of safety.
It says that "each of the several times that Lauren called the police, it was like the first time." Each person she spoke to indicated no knowledge of who she was, shy she was calling and with no knowledge of the accumulating record of her issues, requests or complaints.
"She was repeatedly asked to frame her concerns anew, repeatedly respond to the same list of questions and fill out the same forms," the response says.
It also states:
Many calls and emails are documentable between October 13 and 19. Out of desperation, Lauren called the downtown SLC PD twice because of the lack of response from Dallof and the UUPD. Both times the SLC PD simply redirected her concerns back to the nonresponsive UUPD.
It also says an officer ran a criminal history, before the murder, and found that her eventual killer had been convicted of forcible sex abuse.
"This should have raised concerns for Lauren's safety," her parents wrote.
The letter documents many attempts by Laruen to get police help. It states that a reasonable person would conclude, repeated calls from Lauren McCluskey until she was able to talk with one officer and emailing another office reporting a text impersonating law enforcement, with previous concerns that she was being lured by someone, would mean her safety could be in jeopardy and should have been communicated between officers.
" The fact that Deras did not report this to McLenon, or to anyone at all, is inexplicable and indefensible," the response states.
This is an unforgivable lapse of judgment and professional competency. This contradicts the finding (18) that the police were taking Lauren’s complaints seriously.
The response agrees with findings of the independent review, but it says the university must substantially improve.
It also calls for officers to be help personally accountable.
"Moreover, the report states that, in addition to systemic defects, there were individual failings. If the University of Utah is serious about following the report’s recommendations, it is essential that the individuals who failed our daughter be held accountable for neglecting her numerous, persistent attempts to seek help, and be disciplined appropriately," it states.
The full letter is below: