AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police say they have arrested a homeless 17-year-old they believe is connected in the death of University of Texas at Austin student Haruka Weiser.
Jail records indicate the suspect, Meechaiel Khalil Criner, 17, was booked into the Travis County Jail around 2 a.m. Friday. Sources tell KXAN News the suspect is 17 years old and is a known bicycle thief. He was taken into custody at the LifeWorks in East Austin. A spokesperson with the Austin Fire Department says they were able to give investigators a crucial tip when firefighters responded to a small fire overnight involving a backpack that may have contained some of Haruka’s belongings.
UT President Greg Fenves sent out a statement Friday morning stating he cannot discuss details on the investigation but he will be speaking at the news conference with the various law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation. “I assure you that Austin Police and other law enforcement agencies are working quickly to resolve this heinous crime against one of our students,” said Fenves.
Haruka, a first-year Theatre and Dance student from Portland, Ore. was last seen by her friends on the night of April 3. Her body was discovered two days later in Waller Creek near the campus’ Alumni Center.
Police Thursday released surveillance footage of a man they were hoping the public could identify. The video showed a man on a bicycle (red or pink woman’s bicycle) in the area north of the football stadium at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, 2016. Police say some of the video was taken prior to and after Haruka’s attack. Police say the suspect is believed to be a black man who is around six feet tall.
A $15,000 Crimestoppers reward for any information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspect(s) involved in Haruka’s death was also released Thursday.
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined Haruka’s cause of death, but authorities are not releasing it due to the ongoing investigation. However, Chief Gay did say Haruka was assaulted.
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