Texas officials identified the female student found dead on the University of Texas at Austin campus Tuesday, but they offered little else in regards to information about the male suspected of her murder besides his image captured on a campus surveillance camera. Police have asked the public for help in capturing this person of interest.
In a press conference held Thursday afternoon, April 7, UT-Austin officials named the homicide victim as 18-year-old Haruka Weiser, a first-year student majoring in Theatre and Dance, from Portland, Oregon. Authorities found her body on campus in a creek west of the Alumni Center on the morning of April 5.
Austin police played a survelliance video of the person they believe is the suspect in Weiser’s death. Austin PD described him as a black male, approximately six feet tall. Authorities are asking anyone with information about this person in the video, who had a red or pink bicycle, to contact the Austin Police Department hotline at 512-974-5372. They also cautioned students to remain vigilant.
APD releases video of person of interest. pic.twitter.com/QGFmM0Bz69
— Grant Bates (@ATXWebGuy) April 7, 2016
The U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the state’s Crime Stoppers offered a combined $15,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of the purported suspect involved in Weiser’s murder. UT President Greg Fenves said that Austin PD continues to work closely with the University of Texas police, the Texas DPS, and the Texas Rangers to “locate and apprehend a suspect quickly.”
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Haruka’s cause of death, however, because of the ongoing investigation, they will not release this information. Austin Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay only said Weiser was assaulted.
Officials did not release many details because of the ongoing investigation. They advised students to pay close attention to their surroundings, not walk around distracted or alone. Fenves said he was prepared to take “concrete steps to implement a DPS review.”
Previously, Breitbart Texas reported Fenves said “all law enforcement assets will be deployed to protect this campus and community,” citing intentions to increase officer patrols as a precaution. Among the beefed up police presence are the Texas Rangers and Texas DPS.
Fenves said that “as students you expect to be safe,” adding that the “attack on Haruka is an attack on our entire family. Law enforcement is fully engaged to do everything to bring the perpetrator who committed this crime to justice.”
Gay said Weiser was last seen Sunday night around 9:30 p.m. leaving the Winship Drama Building. He said she communicated with one of her friends on the way to her dorm but never arrived. A roommate called the UT Police Department on Monday morning, April 4, reporting her missing in the late morning. Campus police tried to locate her through usual protocol of contacting friends and family, ultimately discovering her remains in Waller Creek.
Fenves called Weiser’s death a “tragic loss for the UT community” and stated “as a parent, this is my worst nightmare.” Earlier, he issued a statement “with great sadness” calling the late Weiser “a beloved member of our dance community, liked and admired by her classmates and respected by professors for her intelligence and spirit.” He noted Austin PD Victim Services counselors spoke to her parents in the morning, adding “my heart goes out to them.”
The Weiser family issued a statement to the UT-Austin community in the face of this unimaginable loss, which Fenves read during the press conference. It expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of love, kindness and prayers offered to them at this tragic time.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.