Angela Bronner Helm
Meechaiel Criner 
Police photo

A 17-year-old living in a homeless shelter has been taken into custody in the death of a University of Texas freshman, according to CNN.

After police circulated a surveillance video of a suspect, they took Meechaiel Criner into custody Friday evening in the death of 18-year-old Haruka Weiser.


Criner was charged with first-degree murder, and bond was set at $1 million. He will be tried as an adult.

Weiser, a dance and theater major, was last heard from Sunday evening as she phoned a friend after leaving a late-night drama class.


Her body was found Tuesday morning in a creek close to the school’s football stadium on the Austin, Texas, campus of over 50,000 students.

According to an affidavit, the surveillance video shows a man with clothing matching Criner following a woman, then reaching into the back of his pants and pulling out “what appeared to be a shiny rigid object.”


He is not seen on video again for a few hours, when he is seen walking with a slight limp and holding a small duffel bag that matched the description of one the victim had carried that night.

“We are very certain that the subject we have in custody is the suspect responsible for the death of this beautiful young woman,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, according to CNN.


Police reportedly made contact with Criner on Monday, when they took him to a youth homeless shelter after he was found at the scene of a trash fire near campus, Acevedo told reporters.

Authorities now believe that Criner was burning some of Weiser’s belongings as well as a coat he was wearing.


After obtaining a search warrant Thursday, police allegedly found some of the victim’s belongings, including a computer, in the teen’s room at the shelter.

NBC News reports that Criner, originally from Texarkana, Texas, told a school newspaper in 2014 of horrific abuse he suffered both at school and in foster care.


“I’ve been bullied almost my whole life,” Criner was quoted as saying in the Tiger Times, a publication at a Texas high school. He also said that child-protective services, which he was on runaway status from, was “not a good place,” and that foster care was “like a prison.”

The police chief said that additional charges may be filed.

Read more at CNN and NBC News.

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