Police Search for Suspect Seen in Video in Connection with Murder of University of Texas Ballet Dancer
University of Texas Presidents says Weiser was a "beloved member" of dance community
brightcove.createExperiences(); Officials have released the name of a female student found in a creek Tuesday morning on the University of Texas campus.
Haruka Weiser, 18, a first-year Theater and Dance student, has been tentatively identified as the victim, according to university officials.
In a statement, Haruka’s parents said she was a dance major preparing to double major in pre-med. “The pain is unfathomable,” the statement said. “She would want us to keep living life to the fullest. That is what we will try to do in the coming days.”
According to a statement released by University President Gregory Fenves, “Haruka was a beloved member of our dance community, liked and admired by her classmates and respected by professors for her intelligence and spirit.”
Weiser was recruited from her hometown in Portland, Ore., more than two years ago when she performed at the National High School Dance Festival.
“Trained in ballet, Haruka excelled in all her performance endeavors,” Fenves’s statement said.
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At a Thursday press conference, Austin Police Chief Troy Gay said that on Sunday night, Haruka was seen leaving the campus’s drama building. He said that she communicated with her friend, and that authorities believe she was traveling back to her dormitory, but “she never made it to her dormitory that night,” Gay said.
Her roommate called the university’s police department to report her missing at around 11:30 p.m., Gay said. Police tried to locate her, but they were unable to do so until Tuesday morning, when Gay said, they conducted a more thorough search and found her remains in the Waller Creek area.
Haruka’s death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy, Gay said.
Gay said authorities did not notify the media yesterday of Haruka’s identity because her family had to be notified first.
Fenves said extra officers and police vehicles have been added to assist with campus security, while providing students with counseling, if needed, while they continue with their regular schedule.
Bob Harkins, Vice President of Campus Safety and Security, said there has been increased security on campus in the wake of the attack. The Austin Police Department has offered 20 officers in addition to campus officers.
While students try to focus on school and prepare for final exams, the news of a death made some students fearful.
“We know very little and it’s putting people a little on edge,” says Jess Neuhauser, a junior at UT. “It felt weirdly quiet [on campus].”
Officials from the Austin Police Department say they are working diligently on finding the killer.
“The main focus at this time is to identify, locate and arrest the individual that committed this crime,” according to a statement released by Austin PD.
Suspect Seen Walking Red Bicycle on North Side of Football Stadium
Chief Gay said authorities have identified a suspect in the case. Gay described the suspect as a 6-foot-tall male walking a red bicycle, who was seen on surveillance video on the north side of the football stadium.
Harkins encouraged members of the school community, “Please do not walk alone. Walk in groups, especially at night.” He reminded school community members about the 150 “blue light” phones and cameras on campus and told people to “make certain we are staying aware of the surroundings we’re in” and to not take shortcuts through dark areas.
At the press conference, Fenves said, “The unimaginable brutality against Haruka is an attack against our entire family.”
He added, “To our students, you expect and deserve to be safe.”
There will be a community gathering on the east mall of the campus at 5:30 p.m.
Those with any information are encouraged to call authorities. Information leading to an arrest has a reward of $15,000.
In a statement, Haruka’s family said their daughter “was taken from us too soon,” and that they will “forever miss her.”