Haruka Weiser’s body was found with signs of sexual assault

Meechaiel Criner (left) suspect in the homicide of Haruka Weiser (right)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The search warrant for murder suspect, Meechaiel Criner, has been unsealed. Criner is accused of killing University of Texas student Haruka Weiser.

The warrant states police believe 17-year-old Criner intentionally and knowingly caused the death of the 18-year-old student. Police said there were signs of “obvious trauma” to her body and evidence of sexual assault.

On the evening of April 3, Haruka called her friend as she was leaving a drama building around 9:30 p.m. to tell her that she was coming home. But Haruka was never seen alive again.

The next day, April 4, Haruka did not show up for class leading to a missing persons report filed with UTPD. Her roommate told police she was carrying a duffle bag with her laptop, phone, jacket and study materials.

Her body was found April 5 around 9:45 a.m. in Waller Creek near the campus’ Alumni Center. A medical examiner ruled her cause of death as a homicide. Investigators say biological matter found at the scene will be analyzed. Police took DNA swabs and hair from Criner to be tested against evidence found at the scene.

Surveillance video (which was not released to the public) showed a man around Waller Creek the night of Haruka’s death. The warrant states the suspect was seen riding a bike around the area near Winship Hall around 9:20 p.m. He then disappears, showing up on surveillance video again at 9:38 p.m. as a girl dressed in all black can be seen walking past in the direction of the Alumni Center.

According to the affidavit, the woman continues walking towards the bridge, passing the suspect. Police say the video shows the suspect put his bike’s kickstand down and reached into the back of his pants with his left hand and pulled out what appeared to be a “shiny rigid object.” The suspect then followed the woman across the bridge and onto the sidewalk that extends behind the Alumni Center. The suspect is not seen again until 11:47 p.m. when he’s walking along 23rd Street on the north side of the football stadium.The next time the suspect appears on camera he is carrying a small duffel bag that he did not previously have in the video. He also appeared to have an injury to his left leg.

Police made the link to Criner after the Austin Fire Department alerted them to a trash fire they were called to on Monday, April 4 at 2900 Medical Arts Street, which is just off-campus. When firefighters arrived, they found Criner who had a woman’s bicycle in his possession as well as a small blue duffel bag that resembles the one that Haruka had. Among the items in the ashes Criner burned, was a Doc Martin shoe, notebook, and black jacket. Haruka’s roommate said she was last seen wearing Doc Martin shoes, a black shirt and black pants.

Because he was homeless, police took him to LifeWorks for treatment and shelter. Criner was arrested on April 8. The LifeWorks Criner was staying at was searched by police April 11.

Security review

The Department of Public Safety is conducting a security review for the UT campus and is expected to release their findings in August. But a parent organization known as Safe Horns is also doing their own research into possible security gaps.

“We are finding out from businesses on the drag that they see the same people committing habitual offenses,” said Joell McNew, a parent of a UT freshman and a member of the Safe Horns group.

McNew said they have spent time walking the campus, identifying areas that are in need of better lighting and security. Though they are doing their own assessment, she said Safe Horns will wait until DPS concludes the review before acting on upon their own conclusions. She told KXAN Thursday that lighting, a lack of officer presence and the transient population are all concerns Safe Horns has focused in on.

Complete Coverage: UT Homicide

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s