Six months ago, the body of 18-year-old Haruka Weiser was found in a creek behind the alumni center on the UT campus. Police say she was attacked while walking home from class. Friday, her parents returned for a memorial service and a mission: to save others from meeting the same fate.
"In the first hours of knowing Haruka was the victim of a campus-related homicide my wife and I were simultaneously overwhelmed with grief, with disbelief and with a gnawing sense that this could not go unanswered,” said Tom Weiser.
In a eulogy to his daughter, Tom Weiser said it was difficult and painful to return to u-t.
He says his family has been hit with tidal waves of grief since 18-year-old Haruka Weiser was murdered on her way to her dorm room from a class in April.
But smiles came easy when re-telling memories of her days on campus.
"If I had told her in high school she'd be wearing cowboy boots and loving football she never would have believed it. Yet here she was. She was really happy here. She loved UT. She loved being in Austin,” said Weiser.
Her roommate echoed his happy thoughts. Haruka was known for her love of dance. She sought a career in the medical profession to help others.
"I remember the moments we shared together, how she helped me grow and made me feel at home again. How inspiring she was, how fun. lighthearted and deeply, deeply caring,” said Sylvia Feghali.
In honor of her memory, the Texas flag was lowered.
UT President Greg Fenves expressed his sympathies to the family, "We stand with them now to share their grief and we will stand with them in the days and the years ahead."
Haruka's classmates performed a dance tribute. Their emotion still raw as they hugged and shared tears once the music stopped.
But driving the purpose for this memorial was the Weiser family's mission to save others. That, they feel comes through a new campaign they created called walk with me.
"The core of Walk With Me is to create a cultural shift among students to always walk together especially at night. It is our strong belief that this was the most likely thing that would've made a difference for Haruka on the night she was murdered,” said Weiser.
Weiser wants to create an environment in which students look out for each other and themselves. Walking with Haruka's memory and purpose and with him and all who are suffering.
"We carry on in our loss, yours and ours. May the creator protect each and everyone of you in our life journey and fill you with strength, hope and love,” said Weiser.