A 21-year-old University of Utah track star was abducted and shot to death on campus late Monday night -- and her parents believe it was all because she discovered a horrible secret about the killer.
Lauren McCluskey -- a 2017 honorable mention Pac-12 All-Academic -- had been dating a man named Melvin Rowland for about a month ... until Oct. 9, when she found out he was a registered sex offender.
Lauren's parents say, while the two were dating, Rowland had lied to her about his name, his age and his criminal history, which included a 2004 conviction for attempted forcible sex abuse and enticing a minor over the internet.
Fast forward to Monday night at 8 PM when Lauren was talking with her mother on the phone while leaving campus ... and she was abducted in a school parking lot.
"Suddenly, I heard her yell, "No, no, no!" Lauren's mother says ... "I thought she might have been in a car accident. That was the last I heard from her. My husband called 911."
Lauren was found shot to death in her car. Witnesses report hearing several gunshots. Cops launched an all-out manhunt for the suspect and tracked him down outside of a church in Salt Lake City.
Cops say Rowland forced his way inside the building early Tuesday morning and shot himself to death.
School president Ruth V. Watkins announced all classes Tuesday have been canceled and an on-campus vigil is being set for Wednesday evening.
"As a campus community, we share grief over this tragic loss of life," Watkins wrote ... "Our deepest sympathy is extended to Lauren’s family and friends."