Intellectually Disabled Teen Was Arrested For Murder Of University Of Texas Student

Meechaiel Khalil Criner is the homeless teen who was arrested for murder in the death of Haruka Weiser, a freshman theater, dance, and pre-med major at the University of Texas at Austin. The suspect was arrested in Austin.

Leo Criner, uncle of the suspect, reported that his 17-year-old nephew was intellectually disabled and had been in the Texas foster care system for years. He was also abandoned by his mother.

How Criner and Weiser’s path crossed was recorded in a video, which led to his arrest. He is now jailed in Travis County on a $1 million bond.

As the UT campus of 50,0000 mourns Haruka, the police have captured who they believe is her killer. This murder is the first to occur at the UT campus in 50 years.

According to the Austin police, the victim left a building on campus on Sunday night, April 3, heading for her dorm but never made it. She had even called friends to tell them she was on her way. The following morning they called to report that she was missing. On Tuesday, Weiser’s body was found in Waller Creek, just 200 yards away from her residence hall, behind the school’s alumni center.

On Thursday, a video was released, and an Austin resident recognized the male on the video as the one who had started a trash fire near the campus. An affidavit noted that a separate surveillance video showed a man with a shiny object who followed a woman across a bridge and onto a sidewalk at 9:38 p.m. The two people moved out of frame, and only one, the man, could be seen two hours later.

At a news conference, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo reported that investigators believed the items found in the fire belonged to Weiser. The police were then able to track Criner to a homeless shelter, where they arrested him. He not only faces murder charges but also tampering with evidence.

“We are very certain that the suspect in custody is the suspect responsible for the death of this beautiful young woman.”

The elder Criner said his nephew, Meechaiel, was bullied for most of his childhood in Texarkana, Texas and has the mental equivalent of a 10-year-old, noted Dallas News.

“I refuse to believe he just maliciously killed this young lady. This kid don’t know nothing about killing. His mind don’t compute like that.”

Meechaiel’s grandmother said authorities told her that her grandson was caught stealing in McKinney prior to admittance into an emergency shelter for youth in Austin, which was over 200 miles away. The grandmother reported that the suspect had been under psychiatric care since he was a child and was well-mannered but had a temper, per CBS News.

Because firefighters had spoken to Meechaiel earlier about the trash fire near the UT campus, they recognized him as the same person they had seen walking a women’s bicycle. The teen was not arrested for the fire but was taken to Life Works shelter. It is there that the police arrested him on Thursday. Officials stated his clothes matched the ones of the male on the video. He also had a women’s bike, along with Weiser’s bag and her laptop, Dallas News also reported.

Although a police report said Weiser’s body had “obvious trauma” and an autopsy confirmed that she had been assaulted, authorities have not released details on how she died. A weapon was not recovered at the scene of the crime, and Acevedo has not spoken about a possible motive.

It is not clear whether the arrested suspect has an attorney.

[Photo courtesy of Austin Police Department]

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