Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo announced at a press conference Friday morning that a suspect has been apprehended in the homicide of University of Texas freshman Haruka Weiser.
“No parent should have to bury a child,” Acevedo said prior to the announcement of the arrest. “Haruka Weiser was taken from us.”
Acevedo announced that a 17-year old homeless man, Meechaiel Criner, had been detained and questioned by APD in connection with Weiser’s death. He was booked into the Travis County Jail Thursday and will be formally charged with murder Friday afternoon, Acevedo said.
Weiser was last seen alive leaving the drama building on campus Sunday night.
APD Assistant Chief Troy Gay said at a previous press conference, “She never made it back to her dormitory. Her roommates reported her missing Monday. Her remains were found Tuesday near Waller Creek.”
Criner was arrested after Austin Fire Department Station 3 recalled the suspect as being at the scene of a trash fire they responded to Monday. Firefighters called in the tip after the university and APD released the video surveillance of the suspect. A female citizen who initially reported the fire also recognized him and alerted authorities. Acevedo said items they believe belonged to Weiser were found at the scene of the trash fire.
Firefighters reported they had transported Criner to a local homeless shelter. Police responded to that scene and found Criner there.
The manner of Weiser’s death has not been released, but the medical examiner concluded it was homicide. Acevedo said they are certain that Criner is the person responsible for Weiser’s death.
Criner is not a student at the University of Texas, according to officials.
See the press conference here: UT press conference.
The following statement was shared on April 7 by the family of Haruka Weiser:
Haruka Juliana Tsunemine Weiser, our beloved daughter, sister and friend was taken from us too soon. We will forever miss her; the pain of our sudden and tragic loss is unfathomable. We are grateful for all the support, kindness and prayers that have been offered to us. Words cannot express the outpouring of love we have received.
Haruka was a passionate and dedicated dancer and student. She was so happy to be a student at UT and was looking forward to the chance to perform again as a Dance Major and she was declaring a second major in pre-med studies, too. She had plans to explore the world of medicine this summer and to travel to visit family in Japan.
Although Haruka loved to perform on stage she never sought the spotlight in her daily life. Perhaps the last thing she would want is to be the poster child for any cause. And yet, as we struggle to understand why she was killed, if her death can somehow make it safer for a young woman to walk home, if it will prevent another assault or murder, then at least we could find some meaning behind an otherwise senseless and tragic death. To her friends, the many of students at UT and at her high school in all the dance programs in which she participated we are united in prayer for Haruka and for each other. No parent, brother, sister or friend should have to face this kind of sadness, this kind of loss.
Yet, many do. And now we have joined that family. At UT, Haruka did make many friends and received so much support from this community. We know Haruka would not wish for us be stuck in sadness but to keep living life to the fullest; that is what we will try to do in the coming days. And we offer prayers and encouragement for you to do the same.
Thank you for respecting our privacy at this time.
Read the release from the APD here: Arrest affidavit