AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas student murdered on campus was honored in a flag-lowering ceremony with a safety message on Friday less than a year after her death.
Haruka Weiser‘s family returned to Austin six months after their daughter was killed walking home from a UT theater building on April 3. The freshman student told her roommate she was on her way home, but was never seen alive again. Her body was found April 5 in Waller Creek.
Haruka’s roommate Sylvia Fadalli said they were both out of state freshman who shared a lot of struggles. “Haruka was a truly inspirational girl. She was genuine and welcoming,” said Sylvia. “Haruka found simple joys in almost anything she would laugh if we got caught in the rain saying it reminded her of home.”
With a smile on her face, Sylvia concluded saying “Haruka was selfless even in her dance, too humble to let on how incredibly talented she was. She lived her life never about being in center stage.”
Haruka’s father, Tom Weiser, then shared fond memories of his daughter. “In high school, Haruka’s whole world revolved around dance. She loved UT and she loved being in Austin.”
In the first hours of realizing Haruka was the victim of a campus murder, Tom said he and his wife had a gnawing sense this could not go unanswered. He said their family has been held up by the love and prayers of friends.
“It was a difficult and painful decision to come back to UT, we are here today to remember Haruka, a proud longhorn and help us prevent what happened to Haruka to happening to another student,” said Tom
The event marked the launching of the Walk With Me Campaign on campus. Haruka’s father went on to talk about the campaign and the social responsibility among students and staff to come together. The goal of the campaign is to change the culture of campus safety with more lighting, more police and improved landscaping. Tom believes if Haruka had not been alone that night she might still be alive.
“We all have a responsibility to look out for one another,” said Tom.
Fellow classmates of Haruka then gave a moving dance performance with tears in their eyes paying tribute to the former dancer. They performed to the song Walk With Me following the message for students to stay together and look out for one another on campus.
The murder suspect, Meechaiel Criner, is charged with capital murder in the killing of Haruka; he is expected to plead not guilty. Police said there were obvious signs of trauma to her body and evidence of sexual assault.