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APD: 17-Year-Old Suspect in Custody for UT Campus Homicide

Marshall Tidrick for The Daily Texan
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, UTPD and APD showed surveillance footage of the suspect in the homicide of a first-year UT student.

The UT Austin student whose body was found on campus along Waller Creek Tuesday morning has been identified as freshman theater and dance major Haruka Weiser. Her death has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office.

Update Friday 10:40 a.m. Austin Police announced this morning that they'd taken into custody a suspect for the homicide of Haruka Weiser. Law enforcement arrested Meechaiel Criner, a 17-year-old black male, and charged him with first-degree murder. Criner was booked at Travis County jail. APD Chief Art Acevedo said at the conference that they are "very certain" that Criner is the suspect responsible for Weiser's death.

Original story, Thursday: In response, University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves is calling for a Department of Public Safety review of campus security measures.

“To our students, you expect and deserve to be safe. Let me repeat that to our students: You deserve to be safe on our campus,” Fenves said at a Thursday press conference. He said he will maintain the increased patrols on campus that were implemented on Tuesday, and that he instructed campus police to “expand and oversee” the campus’ SURE Walk program, which provides police escorts for students walking across campus.

Fenves is calling for a “comprehensive safety and security review,” and he said he’s prepared to increase on-campus video surveillance, outdoor lighting and building security.

Fenves said he is "prepared to take concrete steps to implement" these measures.

Law enforcement is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in Weiser’s murder. The student’s body was found on campus along Waller Creek Tuesday morning outside of a dance and theater building. Law enforcement played video footage today showing a six-foot-tall black male, whom they’re calling the suspect, walking a pink or red women’s bicycle on campus on Sunday night shortly after the homicide is believed to have taken place. Law enforcement did not reveal any information about how they came to pinpoint the individual on the video as the suspect, citing an ongoing investigation.

Police also did not reveal the cause of death or any other results of the autopsy, though UTPD Chief Troy Gay did confirm that the victim had been assaulted.

Weiser’s roommates called and reported her missing to UTPD on Monday morning after the student did not arrive home Sunday night when expected. UTPD conducted a search, finding Weiser’s body on Tuesday morning during an expanded search of the area. The campus police called on the Austin Police Department and other area law enforcement to assist in the investigation.

The victim's family released a statement that was read at the press conference.

"If her death can somehow make it safer for young women to walk home, then at least we could find some meaning in an otherwise tragic and senseless death," they said.

Police will post the surveillance footage of the person they're calling the suspect later today, they said. They need the community's assistance in solving this crime, and they ask that anyone with information come forward or call 512-974-5372.

Watch APD video of Thursday's press conference below. The surveillance footage of the person identified as a suspect appears around 09:30 of the Part I video, but it's difficult to make much out.

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