Austin Police said Friday they have arrested a 17-year-old suspect in the killing of a University of Texas at Austin student whose body was found this week, NBC News reported.
Haruka Weiser, 18, a dance major at the university, was last seen on campus Sunday night and was reported missing the next morning. Her body was found in a creek Tuesday.
The suspect has been identified as Meechail Criner, who police told a news conference is a homeless teenager. Police found him with a blue duffel bag they say belonged to Weiser. He has been booked and charged with murder.
“We’re going to bring justice to that family, and restore the sense of safety that this campus and this community has enjoyed,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters Friday.
On the evening Weiser disappeared, campus surveillance footage showed a man walking around about 10 p.m. and then after 11 p.m. with a women’s bike. Earlier Friday, police said investigators believed the man who appeared in campus surveillance video was responsible for Weiser’s death, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Criner’s arrest came after Austin firefighters responded to a call regarding a small fire and a backpack. The firefighters found Criner, whom they took to a homeless youth shelter, and later recognized him as the suspect on the security video.Officers said Criner had not been in Austin for very long, the American-Statesman reported. They arrested him at the shelter and detained him for tampering with evidence, Acevedo said.
University of Texas at Austin President Gregory L. Fenves issued a statement Friday morning after police announced they had apprehended Criner. “Austin Police are moving quickly in their investigation. The increased police patrols of campus will continue, and I urge all members of the UT community to continue supporting Haruka’s parents, family and classmates as they grieve their beloved daughter and friend,” the statement said.
Police said no weapon was recovered at the scene, but they did say Weiser was “assaulted,” declining to go into further details about the crime. Weiser was originally from Portland, Oregon, and had trained in ballet before coming to UT Austin this year. She was involved with the school’s student-run dance group, and her family said she was planning to double major in pre-med, NBC News reported.