Killeen Teenager Suspected of Murdering University of Texas Student Was Reported to Police as Runaway
A Killeen teenager suspected of murdering a University of Texas dance student was reported to Killeen Police as a runaway on March 24.
17-year-old Meechaiel Khalil Criner, a former student at Ellison High School, was in the custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services when he was reported missing.
Criner's family reportedly had an extensive history with the agency, and Criner told officials he left his grandmother's home in August because her religious beliefs demanded that men his age leave home and "make their own way in the world".
Criner is accused of following 18-year-old Haruka Weiser as she was leaving a dance class on the night of Sunday, April 3 around 9:38 PM. Her body was found in a creek near the UT campus alumni center on Tuesday, April 5.
Surveillance video captured Weiser walking past Criner on the night of her death. In the footage, Criner is seen stopping his bike to watch Weiser, then pulling an object from his back pocket and following her.
On April 7, police were called to an abandoned building where firefighters found Criner burning several items. Some of the recovered items matched samples left near Weiser's body.
Police initially transported Criner to a homeless shelter, but they later returned to arrest him. In his assigned room, they found items matching those seen on surveillance footage and traces left at the scene of the murder.
Criner has been charged with 1st Degree Murder.