(ABC News)–The body of a woman found in a creek on the University of Texas at Austin campus has been identified as 18-year-old Haruka Weiser, a first-year fine arts student.
According to the Austin Police Department, Weiser was a victim of assault and endured what university president Gregory L. Fenves described as “unthinkable brutality.”
Weiser was last seen Sunday night leaving the drama building between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m., Austin Police Department Chief Troy Gay said in a press conference Thursday. Weiser had communicated with one of her friends after she left the building, so police are confident of the route she took as she traveled back to her dorm, Gay said.
She never made it to her dorm that night, and her roommates called university police the next morning to report her missing.
After failing to locate Weiser Monday, Police conducted a more thorough search, finding her remains in a creek behind the campus’ alumni center Tuesday morning, Fenves said that day. Her death was immediately thought to be suspicious by police.
The Medical Examiner ruled Weiser’s death a homicide after performing an autopsy, Gay said, but did not elaborate on the nature of her death other than that she was assaulted. The identity of the suspect is not known at this time.
In the press conference, Gay played surveillance video of a person of interest. He first was seen on surveillance wearing a backpack and walking a red bicycle around 10 p.m. and then later after 11 p.m. Police believe he was in the area near the drama building for at least a couple of hours.
Gay described the campus as “active” at the time the suspect was seen on campus, with cyclists and walking students appearing near the suspect. He hopes one of those people will come forward, and a $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
“The police department will not rest” until the suspect is arrested,” Gay said.
Fenves read a statement from Wesier’s family, saying she was a “passionate and dedicated dancer and student” who was about to declare a second major in premed studies and wanted to travel to Japan.
“We will forever miss her,” the family’s statement said. “The pain of our sudden and tragic loss is unfathomable.”
Fenves said Weiser was “liked and admired by her classmates and respected by professors for her intelligence and spirit”
Wesier was a theater and dance student from Portland, Oregon and trained in ballet, Fenves said.
“The unthinkable brutality against Haruka is an attack on our entire family,” Fenves said. “Law enforcement is fully engaged to do everything to bring the perpetrator who committed this crime to justice.”