In 2018, Lauren McCluskey was murdered in a parking lot on the campus of the University of Utah. She was on the phone with her parents when Melvin Sean Rowland, a man she had dated until she discovered that he was lying about who he was, shot her multiple times. As this investigation shows, Lauren didn’t have to die: She and her loved ones had been in touch with police not once, not twice, but many times about Rowland — how he extorted her, manipulated her, threatened her:

They had alerted police that Rowland was a convicted sex offender, and that Lauren had received harassing messages and been extorted. Only once did someone run his name through O-Track, Utah’s database that tracks offenders.

The dispatcher who performed a check that day had been on the job for a month and was still in training. She had never used O-Track. She’d later tell state investigators that her supervisor and an officer were present when she checked but that she didn’t click a tab that would have displayed Rowland’s parole status.

The school’s internal investigation later found that no University of Utah police officer had ever checked someone’s corrections status and that no one knew how.

The state later identified another flaw: Nobody received notification when an O-Track status check was done unless that person was being cited or charged. Thomson, Rowland’s parole agent, had no way of knowing campus police were looking up his record. Rowland’s name, along with 177,382 other names that were checked during his 188 days on parole, sat in a database that wasn’t regularly monitored.

So the University of Utah police had no idea Rowland was on parole, and his parole officer had no idea school police were looking into him. Extorting someone for $1,000, which Lauren had already paid, was a Class A misdemeanor and would be a violation of his parole terms. The request for another $1,000 would have elevated the crime to a third-degree felony, meaning Rowland could have received an additional sentence that lasted well beyond the May 2019 expiration date of his original sentence, long after Lauren was to graduate from the University of Utah.