Body in Waller Creek Identified
Haruka Weiser, 18, was last seen on Sunday evening
By Chase Hoffberger,
2:10PM, Thu. Apr. 7, 2016
Police have identified Haruka Weiser as the woman found dead in Waller Creek on the University of Texas campus Tuesday morning. Weiser, 18, was a freshman at the school studying theatre and dance.
Weiser, a native of Portland, Oregon, was originally reported to UT Police as missing on Monday morning. Her body was found the following morning at 10:46am, though she was not immediately identified. In the wake of the unsolved murder, the first on-campus killing since Charles Whitman’s Tower shootings in 1966, UT President Greg Fenves called for an increased police presence. Forty additional officers stepped in from the Department of Public Safety and Austin Police Department. The excess remained in place through Wednesday evening, when APD took over as lead investigators. Weiser’s family was notified of her death on Wednesday. Thursday at 11:30am, Fenves revealed her identity to the public.
At a press conference beginning Thursday at 1pm, APD Asst. Chief Troy Gay detailed how Weiser had been last seen Sunday night shortly after 9:30pm when she left the F. Loren Winship Drama Building, located across Waller Creek from the northwest corner of UT’s football stadium. She was headed home to her dorm room, her friends and roommates told authorities, but she never made it. Weiser’s roommates reported her missing at 11:30am on Monday. Tuesday morning, Gay said, after deploying an expanded search, authorities “found her remains” nearby in Waller Creek.
A search is now on for a man seen by campus security cameras pushing a small red or pink bike up the hill near UT’s football stadium Sunday before 10pm. Gay said that the man was seen intermittently on that security camera for a of couple hours before Weiser left the drama building, then disappeared from any surveillance. He showed up a second time – on another nearby camera just northwest to the stadium – after 11pm. Gay showed footage from the cameras during the press conference, and asked anybody who’d seen the man to call APD Crime Stoppers, 512/472-8477.
“This is our person of interest,” Gay said. He said that he could provide no other specifics about the murder, other than that Weiser was “assaulted.”
Fenves indicated before Gay spoke that the UT community would see a continued police presence from APD and DPS – both departments would lend UT Police 20 additional officers. He said that he’s asked UT Police to assume jurisdiction over and expand the campus’ Sure Walk program, a student-run group that accompanies students and staff around campus upon request. Fenves said he’s also asked DPS Director Steve McCraw to conduct a security review of the campus.
Fenves returned to the podium after Gay and a few others spoke. He read a statement from Weiser’s family. It was composed and thoughtful, portraying an inspirational woman.