Affidavit: UT-Austin murder suspect caught burning Portland vict - KPTV - FOX 12

Affidavit: UT-Austin murder suspect caught burning Portland victim's items

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Meechaiel Criner, jail booking photo Meechaiel Criner, jail booking photo
Surveillance image of murder suspect at University of Texas at Austin. Surveillance image of murder suspect at University of Texas at Austin.
Haruka Weiser, family photo Haruka Weiser, family photo

A teen matching the description of a murder suspect wanted for killing a University of Texas at Austin student from Portland was found in an abandoned building near campus burning the victim's items, according to court documents.

Meechaiel Criner, 17, was arrested Friday on the charge of first-degree murder for the killing of 18-year-old Haruka Weiser of Portland.  

Weiser was last seen leaving the drama building on campus Sunday night. According to the affidavit, she called a friend at 9:30 p.m. to say she was "on the way" after her class ended.

She was reported missing when she didn't attend class Monday. Her body was discovered Tuesday behind an alumni center building on campus.

Court documents state there was "obvious trauma to the victim's body." Her death was ruled a homicide.

At 9:38 p.m. Sunday, surveillance video showed a female dressed in all black – as Weiser was that night – pass a man on a red or pink women's bicycle who had repeatedly tried to open the doors of a parked van in the area.

The man put the kickstand down on the bike, reached into his pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a shiny rigid object. He then followed the woman.

After following her, he is caught on the same campus surveillance camera again at 11:47 p.m. Court documents state he was walking with a limp alongside the same bicycle he was seen riding earlier, with an apparent injury to his left leg.

The man was also seen carrying another bag that he did not have with him earlier.

After a portion of the surveillance video was released Thursday, an Austin Fire Department captain called the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit to report crews responding to an abandoned building Monday morning where a teen was burning items.

The teen's description and bicycle matched the surveillance video.

The teen, identified as Criner, said he was homeless. He was taken to a shelter by police and his interaction with officers was recorded in the patrol car.

Investigators reviewed the patrol car video and said Criner was wearing the same pants and shoes as the suspect in the surveillance video. He was also carrying a blue duffel bag, which Weiser was known to be carrying when she was last seen. A friend of Weiser who was in her dance class the night she disappeared confirmed it was her bag, according to an affidavit.

Detectives returned to the abandoned building and among the ashes of burned property found a small-sized Doc Martin shoe, which Weiser was last seen wearing, along with a burned notebook that contained college course work and a jacket that was identical to what the suspect was wearing in the surveillance video.

Criner was first arrested at the shelter on the charge of tampering with evidence. His room at the shelter was searched and among the evidence found was a Mac Book computer with a sticker that mentioned the city of Portland, Weiser's hometown.

Weiser had attended the Arts and Communications Magnet Academy in Beaverton for six years. She received a full dance scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin.

Her family released a statement Friday saying they were relieved an arrest had been made after Criner was arrested on the charge of murder.

KSLA reports Criner's grandmother said the family hadn't heard from him since he left home last August.

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