Guest opinion: University of Utah fatally failed Lauren McCluskey

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.


  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    March 5, 2019 7:04 p.m.

    It is a tragic event, as I said before. But what exactly is the author thinking should have been done. There murder wasn't a student. The state has explicitly made carrying a weapon on campus legal. Was the school to put her in protective custody? Provide her with body guards? What should they have done exactly?

    This was a horrific crime. Why was this person out roaming the streets? Was it the universities responsibility to make sure people convicted of sex crimes were not on the streets?

    This again I think is a failure of our mental health system where we turn people back on to the streets because we don't want to deal with them. This scenario plays out over and over again. In this case it was a singular death - but in Sandy Hook, Denver, Virginia Tech, in Florida - it is people with known issues that are the killers. People who shouldn't be not the streets, period.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    March 4, 2019 5:59 p.m.

    The University of Utah has security guards for the top administrators, and x-ray macines and metal detectors protecting them. It sounds like no one in the campus police took seriously an explicit threat against the life of a student living on campus. If I were still enrolled there, I would get a concealed carry permit so I could protect myself, since the campus police will not do it.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2019 1:58 p.m.

    Jim Schwartz - Fort Lauderdale, FL "if U of U officials had taken appropriate action and pursued the killer for his new crimes"
    We don't agree on the role of a university police department. I don't believe that "U of U officials" should be tasked with rounding up non-students who have violated parole. We should have (and do have) a division of law enforcement tasked with that responsibility.

    "I hope you don't have a daughter attending the U of U."
    This crime happened to occur at the U of U. It could have easily happened at any other public or private campus across the state. There are things to correct, but we will fail if we only fix the U of U. The same safety improvements should apply to USU, UVU, Westminster, SUU, Weber, and community colleges.

  • mufasta American Fork, UT
    March 4, 2019 1:14 p.m.

    The UofU blew this so badly and there has, not as of yet, been any accountability for this farce. They got a pass. Its pathetic.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2019 12:20 p.m.

    I can guarantee you that Wadkins, Police Chief Brophy and all Utah administrators KNOW that they blew it.

    This is about covering your tail legally in the face of a mountainous lawsuit. PERIOD.

  • Bigger Bubba Herriman, UT
    March 4, 2019 12:17 p.m.

    "Lauren contacted the campus police more than 20 times during the 10 days leading up to her murder, and nothing of any substance was done to assist her or protect her. She was on her own. "

    I could not say it better. Some heads need to roll at the UofU.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2019 12:14 p.m.

    I agree with this opinion piece, though the author's anger doesn't go far enough.

    Not only is it very clear that the University Police officers did not act in good faith; it is clear that the same is true for the Salt Lake City Police officers.

    It is very clear from what happened here; that the officers are trained to think only as soldiers in a military; tasked with the "kill or capture" mentality. If they didn't receive enough "Probable Cause" to immediately arrest the suspect, they weren't going to do anything at all.

    They didn't "investigate" anything, even though there was reasonable suspicion for at the very least calling the parole officer (and yes they knew he was on parole because both Lauren and her mother told police that when they called). They didn't even keep records of the calls so that each police officer just assumed it was a "first contact" scenario.

    They only finally did something when there was a "murder" in which was a probable cause to actually go out and search for the suspect. As if police only care about killing or capturing individuals if 1) they are drug users, or 2) they killed someone else.

    And SLCPD is just as at fault.

  • Susan Quinton Draper, UT
    March 4, 2019 11:59 a.m.

    I just feel terrible for her mom. Not only begging her daughter to leave the university, also on the phone when the murder happened, and then being given the runaround from university officials and Watkins....it’s a tragedy on top of a tragedy.

  • water rocket , 00
    March 4, 2019 11:40 a.m.

    There is no question that what happened to Lauren was tragic. However, I find it ironic that so many people find fault with BYU's honor code, which is designed to help keep their students safe, and the so called freedoms other universities (like Utah) have to let students make their own choices.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2019 11:06 a.m.

    There were a lot of mistakes made by a lot of parties.

    Parole Board shouldn't have let him out. Sex offenders and murderers are extremely hard to rehabilitate.

    U. campus police should have contacted SLC PD early on to check him out. Watkins blew it in nonstop defense of the U campus police's actions and the university response.

    Lauren should have been more careful in checking out people she went out with. Bars, in general, are a very poor place to meet someone decent. You can also check people out fairly easily with technology being what it is. There are many ways to date more safely given the society we live in.

    Parents have to raise children to be less naive about who and what is out there in our society. And, teach them skills to help protect themselves. If parents feel their children are in serious danger they can also take them back home temporarily.

    Even if everyone had done everything right, it doesn't mean something bad couldn't have happened to her or couldn't have happened to her on a campus close to home. There are many bad things that happen to many good people.

    What happened to her was horrific. It is something her family and friends will never get over.

  • ToddWorley Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2019 9:57 a.m.

    If the goal is to make campus safer, how does firing a bunch of people help? Do you really think that firing a police officer or two, or firing someone in administration, will actually make the campus safer?

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    March 4, 2019 9:41 a.m.

    The UU-PD should be de-certified for gross incompetence. Andy and Barney couldn't have done worse.

  • 1Foryourconsideration Salt Lake City, UT
    March 4, 2019 9:38 a.m.

    Lets see here; he's a paroled felon for violent crimes, threatened her multiple times with violence and even death, she begged for help multiple times to those who could offer help against such a criminal - and received none, he killed her, and he still lives. Let's solve the problem first: kill him, then worry about all else.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    March 4, 2019 8:13 a.m.

    "complicit in the tragic and preventable murder of Lauren McCluskey,"

    I want to echo these comments. It presumes that law enforcement could have prevented this action from happening. And that they were complicit in the killings. Using that as a bar, then President Reagans security detail was complicit in the attempted assassination. Surely if the dozens of dedicated security staff could not prevent that attack from happening, then must be complicate. That would make Arizona law enforcement complicit in Gabby Gifford's shooting. The list goes on and on.

    Human nature seeks to put a reasonable and hopeful explanation on events we feel we didn't control. It assumes logic by the perpetrator. It ends up in illogical policies.... like the threat of a ticket or being towed will keep a would-be bomber from parking a bomb laden car in the "no parking" zone at an airport.

    The murder in question is horrific. It took a young life full of potential away from us. But the author fails to put forward a reasonable remedy where we can prevent people of ill intent from committing crimes - not matter how many police we have. Even a president with a 24 hour security detail.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2019 12:38 p.m.

    I want to add to Moderate's comment the old adage " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Current culture to the contrary, be careful of how you pick your close friends; bars are a poor place to choose such. And perhaps the Salt Lake City Police would have been the ones to call sooner or not too late, at least.

  • Jim Schwartz Fort Lauderdale, FL
    March 3, 2019 11:30 a.m.

    @moderate

    "He'd get out, perhaps after she has graduated from university. Who would protect her then?"

    This claim discounts the fact that, had the killer been held until the end of his sentence, May of 2019, not only would Lauren have "graduated from university," the killer would never have met Lauren McCluskey. No need to "protect her then."

    The police are not body guards, true. But if the officials at the Utah Board of Pardons had not been negligent in releasing a violent criminal, Lauren would not have needed a body guard.

    With the passage of time, the killer may have found another victim, assuming he was dead set on killing someone, but if U of U officials had taken appropriate action and pursued the killer for his new crimes, say, "felon in possession of a dangerous weapon," the killer may not have been locked up forever, but he would have been locked up even longer than May, 2019.

    For your sake, @moderate, I hope you don't have a daughter attending the U of U. If you do, I hope you've contracted with a professional bodyguard for her protection.

    As long as administration admits no faults, students there are not safe.

  • Thinkagain Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2019 10:44 a.m.

    I hope that Governor Herbert is listening and takes the pleas outlined in this article for accountability seriously.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    March 3, 2019 10:05 a.m.

    President Ruth Watkins killed any credibility she had, and any future respect. The U needs to cut its losses, admit they screwed up and issue a real apology. It's the only way to move forward.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2019 9:36 a.m.

    "the tragic and preventable murder of Lauren McCluskey"
    This claim discounts the mindset of a determined murderer. Suppose authorities arrested the person harassing Ms McCluskey. Problem over? Wrong. For a brief moment, she has respite from the harassment, but he would not be locked up forever. He'd get out, perhaps after she has graduated from university. Who would protect her then?

    "nothing of any substance was done to assist her or protect her. She was on her own."
    We are all on our own. We correctly seek the police when we are concerned for our safety. One can make the case that city and campus police could have done more, but guarantee that they could have prevented murder? No. The police are not body guards, for Lauren or any of us.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2019 9:19 a.m.

    From the time this tragic story began the University appears to have been more concerned with legal liability than with actual campus safety. The University's president should stop listening to her lawyers and start focusing on the well-being of her students.