Criner was not original prime suspect in UT murder case

Runoff from overnight storms flowed down Waller Creek Wednesday morning. UT students rushed along pathways to classes and several many passed by candle lit memorials that the rain could not extinguish.

The tributes are near the spot where the body of Haruka Weiser was found last week. Another campus vigil is also being planned which U.T. Senior Katherine Cruz says she will attend. Cruz will go, not just to mourn but to help underclassmen understand random attacks can happen anywhere.

"When I came here as a Freshman, I honestly used to walk around on campus at midnight, 1 am and explore the campus with my friends  … I feel terrible for her she was just 18... that’s the last thing you want to worry about as a Freshman,” said Cruz.

One week ago at the Travis County Medical Examiner’s office, an autopsy was done on Haruka Weiser. Court documents noted that her body had obvious signs of trauma and biological evidence was collected from the crime scene in the creek. It may take several weeks before a complete forensic analysis is completed.

Sources close to the investigation confirm that one of the possible causes of death, being considered, is strangulation and that Weiser may also have been sexually assaulted. But until a final report is submitted, investigators say it's premature to say they know exactly what happened.

Surveillance video of a man originally described as a person of interest lead authorities to 17 year old Meechaiel Criner. Additional images, not yet released, allegedly shows the man following Weiser after pulling a shiny metal object from his pants.

U.S. Marshal Hector Gomez told Fox 7 that Criner, at the time, was not the only suspect under consideration.

"Thursday afternoon, approximately 3:00, in the afternoon, we were advised by Austin PD Homicide to shift our focus from a suspect we were looking at, previously, to a suspect they had confirmed was the likely subject, person of interest in the victim's death, causing the victims death,” said Gomez.

No additional information was provided about the man who officials were originally zeroing in on.

Criner was picked up by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. U.S. Marshal Gomez said there were no apparent signs on Criner indicating he had been in an altercation and that he gave up without a fight.

"There was no issue or concern with him doing anything against what they officers were saying."

APD detectives tell FOX7 that a DNA sample from Criner has been collected. The DNA has been entered into a national data base to see if it matches with evidence from any unsolved crimes.

Criner is scheduled to be in court on the 22nd for a status hearing but because the case has not yet gone through a Grand Jury review he may not have to attend the hearing.

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