APD formally files murder charges against suspect Meechaiel Criner

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

The Austin Police Department has formally filed charges of murder against suspect Meechaiel Criner, who is believed to be connected to the death of dance freshman Haruka Weiser.

On Tuesday morning, UTPD began to search the the area around the path Weiser usually took to get to her dorm. They discovered the remains of a young female with obvious trauma to her body, according to the affidavit.

The body was pronounced deceased at 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5, near the Waller Creek area by EMS Medical Director Dr. Ackrell. The body was later identified as Weiser.

Weiser contacted her friend at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday evening to say she was “on her way” home after her class ended in the Winship building. The next day, the University of Texas Police Department received a missing persons report when Weiser did not show up for her Monday classes. Her roommates and friends said she was wearing a black long-sleeve mock turtleneck shirt, black stretch pants and brown Doc Marten shoes.

According to an arrest affidavit, Criner initially arrived to the bay area around 9:20 p.m. Sunday evening. Criner left the area on a pink or red bike after attempting to open the doors to a van in the area, but returned around 9:38 p.m, according to surveillance footage cited in the affidavit.

Mugshot of Meechaiel Criner provided by Austin Police Department

According to the affidavit, when he returned, a figure dressed in all black, later identified as Weiser, walked past the suspect. Criner then pulled out a “shiny rigid object” from his back pocket. The suspect wasn’t seen again until 11:47 p.m. on surveillance footage, according to the affidavit.

In the surveillance footage taken when he appeared again — which was released to the public yesterday by APD in efforts to identify the suspect — the suspect is walking alongside the same bike, but appears to have a slight limp. According to the affidavit, from the footage, he appears to have suffered some sort of injury to his left leg, and is carrying another bag not previously seen in the footage.

Captain Lenard of the Austin Fire Department told police Thursday that a black male was found burning items inside an abandoned building at 2911 Medical Arts District on Monday when the firefighters responded to a call. The male, Criner, had been transported to LifeWorks on 2nd Street Monday afternoon when firefighters discovered he did not have a place to stay.

The APD detective who went to investigate the scene of the fire after Lenard’s call found a small Doc Marten shoe, a burned notebook filled with college-level coursework and a black jacket similar to the one seen in surveillance footage. The police then detained Criner for suspected tampering with evidence, and transported him to the Austin Police Homicide Unit.

Criner’s bond is set at $1,000,000.

The arrest affidavit for Meechaiel Criner:

Police Affidavit: Meechaiel Criner