UT murder suspect was reported as runaway to Killeen PD in March

Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 20:26:25-04

The suspect in the murder of a University of Texas freshman was reported as a runaway to Killeen police less than a month ago.

Meechaiel Khalil Criner, 17, was in Child Protective Services custody when he was reported as a runaway on March 24.

On Friday, Criner was arrested and charged with the murder of UT dance student Haruka Weiser.

He was arrested less than a day after video of a suspect in the crime was released to the public.

You can read Criner's full arrest affidavit here.

The arrest affidavit indicates a suspect, believed to be Criner, was seen following a woman matching Weiser's description as she left her dance class Sunday, April 3 around 9:38 p.m.

Security video shows the woman assumed to be Weiser, on her phone walking toward the university's alumni center.

As she passed the suspect, the affidavit states Criner began watching the woman, put down the kickstand on the bike he was riding, reaches into the back of his pants and pulled out what appeared to be a shiny rigid object.

The affidavit says Criner then followed the woman across the bridge and onto the sidewalk that extends behind the alumni center.

The suspect was not seen again until approximately two hours later at 11:47 p.m.

Police released video footage of the suspect which led them to a tip identifying him as Criner.

On Thursday UT President Gregory L. Fenves called Weiser a beloved member of the school's dance community and said she was admired by both classmates and professors.

"The unthinkable brutality against Haruka is an attack on our entire family," Fenves said. "Law enforcement is fully engaged to do everything to bring the perpetrator who committed this crime to justice." Authorities on Thursday had not yet released a cause of death Weiser.

Her body was found in a creek near the campus alumni center and the football stadium.

A December 2014 issue of the Texas High School student newspaper, the Tiger Times, features Criner in a story headlined, "A voice of hope." 

In it, Criner recounts enduring bullying in his younger years over his clothing and his "African-like accent," and describes the six months he spent in foster care when he was in fifth grade as "a really harsh time in my life." 

He claimed he was the victim of physical violence while in foster care, saying "people can be mean and hateful.” 

The article ends by saying Criner’s future goals were unclear, “but there is one thing Criner aims to accomplish. ‘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.’”

Weiser's murder is the first on UT's campus since 1966 when Charles Whitman shot several people from atop the schools clock tower, killing 16.

KSLA Staff contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved.