COVER: Haruka Weiser, the UT-Austin undergraduate whose body was found on campus this week. PHOTO VIA FACEBOOK
by MATTHEW WATKINS
AUSTIN — Urging students to be more careful on campus, University of Texas at Austin officials are stepping up security after determining that a body found on campus this week belonged to a freshman dance student.
The death of Haruka Weiser, a Portland, Ore., native, is the first homicide on the UT-Austin campus this century, according to crime statistics submitted by the university to the federal government. She had been missing since Monday, university officials said, and her body was found Tuesday near Waller Creek near the university’s alumni center.
University officials and law enforcement have disclosed few details, but they say they are treating the case as a homicide. A news conference has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
“The unthinkable brutality against Haruka is an attack on our entire family,” UT-Austin President Greg Fenves said in a letter to the campus community Thursday. “Law enforcement is fully engaged to do everything to bring the perpetrator who committed this crime to justice.”
The university has reacted swiftly to the news of Weiser’s demise. Fenves cut short a business trip to Amarillo on the day she was discovered. He soon asked the Austin Police Department to take the lead in the investigation. The Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers are also involved in the case.
Meanwhile, the university has stepped up police patrols on campus and arranged shuttles for students who attend performance rehearsals near where Weiser’s body was found. They have also urged students to be careful walking around campus. Students should travel in groups and try to be aware of their surroundings as they walk, the university said.
“This is a difficult time for our community,” Fenves said in an e-mail to students on Wednesday. “There is a lot of justified anxiety, and I want to let you know that law enforcement is working hard to investigate this week’s homicide while campus leadership is actively addressing safety at UT Austin.”
MATTHEW WATKINS reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.