AUSTIN - A year after the murder of a first-year theater and dance student, on the University of Texas campus, students and staff held a memorial service for Haruka Weiser.
UT President Greg Fenves, Student Government Vice President Micky Wolf and Weiser's roommate Sylvia Feghali spoke at the memorial.
"We want to remember that day in a special way so everyone will always remember who she was," Feghali said.
On April 5, 2016, Weiser's body was found in Waller Creek on campus just west of the Alumni Center. Investigators said she was headed home from dance practice when she was attacked. An autopsy report determined she was sexually assaulted and strangled.
Weiser went to school at the Arts & Communication Magnet Academy of Beaverton, Oregon.
Three days after her body was found, Meechaiel Criner, 18, was arrested in connection to her death, charged with capital murder.
Tuesday, in a letter to students, University President Greg Fenves wrote, "I know her name still brings back a flood of memories for every member of our community. When hearing it, we are instantly reminded of our loss and also the legacy left behind."
The Weiser family sent a letter to the UT community which was read by her dorm roommate during the memorial.
Haruka Day Anniversary.
As April is approaching, we have been thinking about how we will be facing the anniversary of the worst day of our life. On April 3, 2016, our beloved daughter Haruka was murdered on the campus of UT Austin on the way back to her dorm after she finished preparing for the upcoming dance performance. It was around 9:30 pm. As much as we do not want to remember what happened to her, we do understand how important it is to remember this tragedy, so that schools that Haruka attended, UT Austin and ACMA can continue to work on campus safety and building stronger communities.
At the same time, we want to remember that day in a special way so everyone will always remember who she was. On that day, Haruka became an angel for everyone. She became a teacher to guide us with her bright faith. Her light lifts our hearts even when we are in the darkest moments of our life. Her light continues to remind us of the goodness in us, in all humankind. Haruka was an innocent victim of a random act of violence.
As we were reminded during her funeral service, violence does not have the last word. Rather, we found ourselves completely surrounded by people who deeply care about us. Kindness, caring and grace are the lasting words for us and a tribute to Haruka.
As we carry Haruka’s legacy, on April 3, we kindly ask you to do small random acts of kindness to anyone around you such as buying a cup of coffee or lunch, complimenting others, anything you can do. You might feel like walking away from your friends who are suffering because you do not know what to say or what to do. You do not always need words. You can just walk along with them or just sit with them. We all can feel the presence of people who truly care. Show the world to inspire. Share acts of kindness on your social media by posting a heart as a symbol of love and kindness. Every act counts. Everyone counts. Each of us has a reason to exist on this earth. Such small acts of kindness remind us why we came to this world -- to make this world a better place.
Thank you for your continued support and care of our family. We look forward to seeing seeds of love continue to sprout throughout the world. Walk with me, Walk with each other.
After Weiser's death, Fenves said the University took steps to make the university a safer campus.
- Upgrades to campus lighting systems, pathways and security cameras.
- Increased availability of nighttime transportation and emergency call boxes on and off campus.
- Increased police presence on campus.
- Improved collaboration between university and local police.
- Community outreach and security awareness campaigns to reduce risk for students, faculty and staff.
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