Haruka Weiser has been identified by the University of Texas-Austin Police Department as the dead person found on UT-Austin’s campus. Her body was found in Waller Creek, near the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center.
Initially police had withheld the name of the victim, but they then updated the status of the investigation on Tuesday afternoon and released the fact that the body was that of a woman in her 20’s. In turn, that led people to believe it could be Haruka Weiser, a dance and theater student, who had been reporting missing since April 3rd. Contrary to earlier reports, she was only 18.
A missing persons report for Haruka Weiser was officially filed on Monday, April 4th.
Who is Haruka Weiser?
Haruka Weiser was a dance and theater student at University of Texas-Austin, where she had a dance scholarship. She was originally from Portland, Oregon and was an 18-year-old freshman. Her name was officially released to the public on April 7th.
In a statement released by UT President Gregory L. Fenves, Haruka was described as being “liked and admired by her classmates and respected by professors for her intelligence and spirit.”
He continued with, “The unthinkable brutality against Haruka is an attack on our entire family. Law enforcement is fully engaged to do everything to bring the perpetrator who committed this crime to justice. I ask you to join me in expressing our deepest condolences to Haruka’s parents, family, classmates and friends and to help the university honor her life.”
Haruka trained in ballet, loved hip hop, and was involved in Dance Action, a student-run organization for dancers. She also performed in the fall Dance Action concert.
As of Wednesday morning, the crime scene was listed as a homicide investigation being lead by the Austin Police Department.
University of Texas Austin President Greg Fenves said in a news conference, “This is a difficult and tragic day for our campus community. Our home has been violated.”
President Fenves has asked for various additional police forces to help patrol campus.
For those on campus tonight: I have directed 50 officers from UTPD, APD and DPS to patrol our community.
— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) April 6, 2016
Haruka’s body was found just after 10:46 am Tuesday morning. Police found the body after several students complained about a smell coming from Waller Creek. An autopsy was performed and the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined a cause of death, but authorities are not releasing it due to the ongoing investigation.
“UTPD first learned that Haruka was missing on Monday morning and immediately began a search,” said UT President Gregory L. Fenves. “As I reported in my message to campus yesterday, Austin police are leading the homicide investigation into this horrifying and incomprehensible crime and working with UTPD and other law enforcement agencies to locate and apprehend a suspect quickly.’
A named murder suspect has yet to be released, but police are currently looking for the man in the below photo:
According to People,
Austin police chief Troy Gay said authorities have identified a “person of interest” in the case. Gay described the person of interest as a young person walking a red bicycle, who was seen on surveillance video on the north side of the football stadium.
Gay said that on Sunday night, Haruka was seen leaving the campus’s drama building. He said that she communicated with her friend, and that authorities believe she was traveling back to her dormitory, but “she never made it to her dormitory that night,” Gay said.
Update 4/7/2016: The Austin Police Department released this video of the suspect below. Anyone who may have seen this person or been on campus at this time is asked to call the police.
Update 4/8/2016: Meechaiel Khalil Criner, a 17-year-old homeless man, has been named as the prime suspect in the UT-Austin murder case. Meechaiel is being charged with murder, but the investigation is still ongoing.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends in this tragic time. If you’re a UT-Austin student who requires counseling for this or for any other matter, please reach out to the UT-Austin counseling center at (512) 471-3515.