The Salt Lake Tribune has learned through an independent review that an officer handling the case of slain University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey showed people explicit photos of her. McCLuskey had informed campus police that she was being blackmailed by ex-boyfriend Melvin Rowland with explicit photos that she had taken, before ultimately being murdered by Rowland. 

Miguel Deras, the officer assigned to McCluskey’s case, allegedly kept the pictures on his phone, and showed them off to, at least, one co-worker. She was shot and killed by Rowland a little over a week after filing her report. 

McCluskey sought the help of campus police after an unknown person threatened to release her personal photos if she didn’t pay over $1,000. Even though she ultimately agreed to this person’s demands, McCluskey sent copies of their interactions via text, along with transaction details and the images that were being used to blackmail her to campus police. 

University of Utah police chief Rodney Chatman announced Monday that an outside agency will launch an investigation into the allegations made against Deras in wake of these latest revelations. 

Two unidentified officers allegedly heard Deras bragging about having the photos of McCluskey in his possession. In July 2019, campus police downloaded files off of Deras’ phone, but almost everything was corrupted. It may be because he bought a new device after her death. 

Deras left the campus police department two months later, amid concerns over how McCluskey’s case was handled. “He was long gone before we had any inkling that that incident with the photo being shown had occurred,” police Lt. Jason Hinojisa said. 

McCluskey was fatally shot on campus by Rowland, who she broke up with after discovering that he had lied about his real age, as well as his criminal record as a convicted sex offender. Rowland, 37, was pretending to be a 28-year-old student named Shawn Fields. McCluskey’s parents filed a $65 million lawsuit against the school last year, alleging that campus police could have prevented her death.

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