Police Arrest Man For Brutal Killing Of College Student

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Meechaiel Khalil CrinerMeechaiel Khalil Criner

A homeless Texarkana, Texas, teen is accused of killing a female University of Texas student.

On April 8, Meechaiel Khalil Criner, 17, was charged with murder in connection with Haruka Weiser's death, the Statesman reports.

Weiser, a first-year dance student at UT’s Austin campus, was found dead in a creek near the campus Alumni Center and football stadium on April 5.

Weiser called a friend at 9:30 p.m. on April 3 to tell her she was "on the way" after attending a class on campus, according to Criner's arrest affidavit KSLA reports.

Weiser was reported missing the following day, and on April 5 campus police reported that they found the “remains of a young female with obvious trauma to her body.”

Surveillance footage released by police on April 7 shows a man riding a woman’s bicycle in the area around 9:20 p.m. on April 3, before trying to open the doors of a parked van. The man returned to the van eight minutes later, around the same time a woman looking at her cell phone can be seen walking towards the alumni center.

Police believe the man and woman in the footage are the suspect and victim.

"As the figure passed the suspect and continues toward the bridge, the suspect watched her, puts the kickstand down on the bike, reaches into the back of his pants with his left hand and pulled out what appeared to be a shiny rigid object," the affidavit states. "The suspect then followed the female across the bridge and onto the sidewalk that extends behind the Alumni Center and runs along the west bank of Waller Creek."

The suspect is not seen on camera again until 11:47 p.m., walking with a slight limp alongside his bicycle and carrying a small duffel bag.

Weiser reportedly left her dorm room with a blue duffel bag that day, according to her roommate.

When authorities first encountered Criner, he was allegedly burning items similar to the victim's at an abandoned building by firefighters, the arrest affidavit states. The police were called and his bike was taken to the fire station for safe keeping. Its description matches that of the one in the surveillance video.

In a 2014 interview with the Texas High School student newspaper, the Tiger Times, Criner spoke of being bullied during his youth for his clothing and “African-like accent.” He refers to the six months he spent in foster care during the fifth grade as “a really harsh time” in his life, and claimed he was the victim of physical violence, KSLA reports.

“People can be mean and hurtful,” he said. “I like to stand up for people. I like to help others,” he added.

As for his future goals, he was uncertain at the time, but told the paper he wants to leave his name behind. 

"Every day, I feel people think I’m not capable of much," Criner said. ‘What I want to leave behind is my name. I want them to know who Meechaiel Criner is."

Criner's bond is set at $1 million.

Sources: KSLA, Statesman / Photo credit: Travis County, Texas, sheriff's office via KSLA

Is Criner guilty of murder?
Yes - 0%
Yes - 0%