A dead body now confirmed as Haruka Weiser, a UT-Austin student, was found at the University of Texas-Austin Tuesday morning. Police arrived on campus on Tuesday to investigate the possible homicide of a deceased individual located near the alumni center. The University of Texas has confirmed the story.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Police announced they’re treating this as a homicide investigation. They identified the deceased but were unable to make her name public, pending notification of family. Police now say they’re focusing their efforts on finding the suspect/suspects.
Update–4/6/2016: Police have confirmed that the body is that of a woman in her 20s. Sources tell KVUE that it’s believed (but not confirmed) that it’s the body of missing Theatre and Dance student who was last seen on April 3rd. We’re working to find out more information.
Update–4/5/2016: According to an email from Cassandra Gholston, marketing director for the Theatre and Dance department, the College of Fine Arts at UT-Austin cancelled theatre and dance classes and production rehearsals on Tuesday.
Students have also reported a much heavier than usual police presence on campus.
UTPD reports that as many as an additional 50 officers are on campus to assist with the murder investigation. It’s not yet known, however, if the death was the result of a homicide, nor have the UTPD confirmed they’re looking for a suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to UT police at 512-471-4441 or dial 911 in case of an emergency.
**This is a developing story. Check back for updates.**
UT-Austin Murder Investigation:
Police announced on Wednesday morning that they’re now treating this like a homicide investigation. It’s confirmed that the Austin Police Department is handling the investigation
“This is a difficult and tragic day for our campus community,” said UT President Greg Fenves in a news conference on Tuesday. “Our home has been violated.”
He has asked for various additional police forces to help patrol campus.
Police have asked students to walk in groups and never alone.
Updates Made By President Fenves On 4/6/2016
The following is a statement made by President Greg Fenves on April 6th, 2016 regarding the state of student security and the ongoing investigation:
This is a difficult time for our community. There is a lot of justified anxiety, and I want to let you know that law enforcement is working hard to investigate this week’s homicide while campus leadership is actively addressing safety at UT Austin.
I have requested that the Austin Police Department, with its deep knowledge and experience, lead the investigation and coordinate closely with UTPD, University of Texas System police, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers. These law enforcement agencies are fully engaged and moving quickly. They have completed processing the crime scene; are working to identify the victim; and are focused on locating and apprehending a suspect in this unthinkable crime.
Law enforcement leaders are providing me with continual updates; and I will do the same for you, staying in touch to share information.
I have also taken additional measures to assure the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors. If you were on campus last night, you may have seen extra officers and police vehicles from DPS and APD joining UTPD. These patrols will continue as needed. The university will provide extra van shuttles for students after their evening rehearsals near the Winship and Fine Arts buildings. We are reviewing other enhanced safety measures on campus.
Importantly, I ask all of you to always remain focused on your surroundings while walking; to never walk alone after dark; and to stay on clearly-marked and well-lit sidewalks.
Based on current information, and with these extra patrols, we will continue to keep the campus open and maintain the regular schedule of classes and events.
Our students come to The University of Texas at Austin to live, learn and prepare for life and do not expect to be confronted by tragedy during their years on campus.
Counseling is available for students at the counseling center in the Student Services Building, which will stay open until 7 p.m. this evening. Staff and faculty counseling services are available through theHealthPoint Employee Assistance Program.
Anyone with information about this crime should call university police at 512-471-4441.
As we respond to this tragedy, let us work collectively to support one another and to make our community stronger and safer. [source]
University of Texas-Austin Reacts:
Immediately after the body was found, UT-Austin police sent out a campus-wide alert.
A Campus Safety Alert sent to the Texas students of the following:. “UTPD responded to reports of a deceased person in a creek on campus west of the Alumni Center. The death is being investigated as a homicide by UTPD. At this time, no suspects have been identified.”
Shortly thereafter, UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves made an official statement:
“I have spoken with campus public safety leaders and am writing to assure you that we are doing everything possible to ensure safety on campus. We are also working closely with Austin police to identify possible suspects. We are unable to release the name of the victim or any details until the family has been notified.”
President Fenves recently updated the students and told them that classes would continue.
That being said, rehearsals and classes at the University of Texas-Austin School of Fine Arts were cancelled on Tuesday.
Waller Creek: Location of Body
The body was found in a creek behind the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, known as Waller Creek. You can see that location below:
UT graduate student Stephanie Sandoval was in the area near the creek and knew something wasn’t right.
Here’s what she told KVUE “Although Waller Creek is a creek and you know, sometimes it does have a creek smell, it did not smell like that on that day. It just smelled different and bad. Just bad.” It’s unknown if Stephanie or another party alerted the school to the body.
UT-Austin Students React
As you could expect, students at Texas are less than thrilled and a little nervous about the circumstances. A lot of the students believe that UT-Austin could do a better job lighting the campus.
Others believe there’s a chance the victim could be someone running through campus (although that’s purely speculative).
Crime at UT-Austin
As stated before, if the death is ruled a homicide, that would be the first murder at the University of Austin in ten years. Here’s a graph of some crime statistics taken from KXAN.