Lauren McCluskey's family still fighting for justice

A year and a half after Lauren McCluskey was killed, her family is still fighting for justice after reports surfaced regarding an officer assigned to the case and the inappropriate photos
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All Lauren McCluskey wanted was some help.

After being extorted over explicit photos she had taken of herself, someone — she didn't know who at that time — was threatening to release them if she didn’t pay the $1,000 that was being asked for. 

Terrified of what was taking place and not knowing what to do, McCluskey paid the money and then reported it to police. She added pictures of the communication messages between her and the blackmailer, hoping for some sort of resolution with the problem.

Tragically, McCluskey was murdered on October 22, 2018, three days after the University of Utah police opened up a formal investigation, and nine days before she originally reported the blackmailing on Oct. 13. In the end, it was her ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland who was extorting her for the money — Rowland was later found on during the early morning hours of the 23rd dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Just over a year and a half after this tragedy transpired and, ultimately ended, McCluskey and her family are still looking for help.

Courtesy of University of Utah Athletics

Courtesy of University of Utah Athletics

According to a report by the Salt Lake Tribune, Miguel Deras, one of the officers who was originally assigned to the case, received and saved the photos to his personal phone. 

According to the article, "Deras showed off at least one of the images to a male co-worker and bragged about getting to look at them whenever he wanted, according to two fellow officers.

The university has only now confirmed that display occurred — a year and a half after McCluskey first brought her concerns to the department — as part of a continued push by The Salt Lake Tribune to obtain public records on how the case was handled. The U. spoke to the officer who was shown the pictures by Deras and verified the action with him. The Tribune also substantiated it with another officer, who overheard Deras talking to that co-worker."

The incident reportedly happened during the three days after the formal investigation and before McCluskey was murdered.

The University had zero knowledge about the incident and improper use of evidence until after Deras left the University of Utah police force 11 months later. Now working for the Logan Police Department, Deras is under investigation by Logan police regarding the alleged incident.

“We are very concerned about this allegation and are starting our own internal investigation to determine the facts,” the statement read. “At the end of the investigation we will take whatever action is appropriate based on the facts we discover."

In fact, the only reason the University was able to make a connection between Deras and the photos was due to the multiple public records requested by the Tribune regarding how the case was handled.

A lawyer who's representing McCluskey’s family said on Monday that they planning to mediate with the Utah Attorney General’s Office this week regarding the situation. If the two sides can't reach any sort of agreement, the lawyers are planning to file a new complaint in court against the University regarding the Deras's alleged actions.

Lauren's parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, filed a $56 million lawsuit against the University last summer. The Utah Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the University, sought to dismiss that lawsuit earlier this year.

More details will be made available when they come to light.