Haruka Weiser, 18, who was murdered last week on the campus of the University of Texas, appears to have been strangled to death and sexually assaulted, according to preliminary evidence. A forensic examination of her corpse provided DNA samples that can be submitted to law enforcement databases for possible matches to other crimes in Texas.
 
The accused perpetrator, Meechaiel Criner, 17, is in custody in the Travis County lockup and charged with murder. A judge has appointed Attorney Ariel Payan to represent Criner, whose bail has been set at $1 million. Additional charges are now being considered by prosecutors.
 
 
This marks the first public disclosure of the possible means that were used to kill Weiser. It appears that she was randomly chosen by the alleged murderer. Until now, police had limited themselves to saying that the Portland, Oregon, teen had been assaulted. Her body was found in Waller Creek, which runs through campus.
 
While the medical examiner’s office in Austin is conducting an autopsy on Weiser’s body, but final conclusions are not expected for several weeks.
 
On April 3, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Weiser called a friend to say that she was leaving the Winship Drama Building on the UT campus where she had been practicing dance. That was the last time anyone heard from her. 
 
At about that time, CCTV footage captured the images of a male believed to be Criner, who was loitering near the Liberal Arts Building, near Winship. The video also captured a female, who may be Weiser, walking past the male subject. He watched her and then put down the kick stand of his bicycle, according to an affidavit.
 
The male subject was seen to reach into the back of his trousers and pull out a “shiny rigid object,” the affidavit said. He then followed Weiser behind the nearby alumni center, which is on the west bank of Waller Creek.
 
It was not until approximately two hours later that Criner was seen on video again, walking with a limp. He was carrying a duffel bag that may have belonged to Weiser. 
Weiser’s body was found two days later in Waller Creek. Criner was arrested on April 7. Police refused to release details about the murder to media, citing concern for the sensibilities of the victim's family.
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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