'Obvious Trauma' in UT Freshman's Death: Cops

Family say suspect Meechaiel Criner is mentally ill
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2016 10:06 AM CDT
'Obvious Trauma' in UT Freshman's Death: Cops
Haruka Weiser performs at ACMA Performing Arts Center in Beaverton, Ore.   (AP Photo)

More details are emerging about the "unthinkable brutality" police say University of Texas freshman Haruka Weiser endured at the hands of homeless teen Meechaiel Criner. Though autopsy results aren't expected for several weeks, police sources tell the Austin American-Statesman that Weiser was sexually assaulted and died of strangulation. A campus surveillance camera shows a man believed to be Criner attempt to open the door of a van parked on campus after 9pm on April 3, reports the Portland Tribune. He disappears but returns around 9:30pm and watches as Weiser walks past him looking at her cellphone, per an affidavit. The man then takes a "shiny rigid object" from a back pocket and follows Weiser behind the alumni center where her body was later found with "obvious trauma," the affidavit says, per the AP.

Criner is next caught on camera two hours later walking with a limp and carrying a bag Weiser's friends say was hers, the affidavit notes. The next morning, firefighters found Criner burning several items, including a shoe and college coursework, in an abandoned building near campus, per the affidavit. Firefighters told police that Criner, who was taken to a homeless shelter, matched the suspect seen in a surveillance video. Police then found Criner in possession of Weiser's laptop, the affidavit says. A murder weapon has not been found. In an interview with ABC 13, Criner's sister says her brother—the youngest of five siblings, who never knew his father—is mentally ill and was staying with his grandmother after his mom committed suicide, but ran away last fall. His uncle says he has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. (Read more murder stories.)

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