UTPD chief explains search for murdered student before body found

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time, the chief of police for the University of Texas discusses every step his officers took when the call came in that Haruka Weiser was missing. KXAN Investigator Brian Collister wanted to find out if his officers followed all department guidelines before Haruka’s body was discovered.

“When that call came in that she was missing, did your officers do everything by the book?” asked Collister.

“Yes, absolutely,” affirmed UT Police Chief David Carter. “They followed all the processes and procedures that would normally be expected. I think the officers actually did a really good job.”

KXAN obtained the incident report which shows a UTPD officer was dispatched to Haruka’s dorm immediately after her roommate reported her missing the morning of April 4. The report lists the call as a “welfare concern. The roommate told the officer the last time she heard from Haruka was the night before when Haruka called her to say was missing her keys and her ID, which her roommate told her were still in the room.

The officer began calling area hospitals, the Travis County Jail, Haruka’s instructors, family and friends. The officer also walked the path along Waller Creek, the same area UTPD finally discovered her body nearly a day later. Chief Carter says Haruka’s body wasn’t found when the first responding officer walked the creek because it was very dark and in an area with dense vegetation.

Carter says his department is now updating its standard operating procedures in missing persons’ case but not because his officers did anything wrong in this case.

“Simply due to the fact there was a homicide that occurred on campus, it’s real important for us to gather all the information, review our procedures and see are there any steps that we should take that we didn’t take or is there any guidance that we should give to the officers that we didn’t,” said Carter.

We reached out to Haruka’s roommate to ask her how officers handled the case. She told us in a text message that “they were very responsive to the situation and have continued to be a presence throughout and after the case.”

Chief Carter also sent a letter to the parents of UT students to let them know their concerns were heard and explained the new protocols, including increased police foot patrols in west campus and measures being taken to address the increased presence of transients. He also provided information to help parents understand the UT campus environment and what their children attending UT can do to stay safe.

UTPD says it has received more than 1,500 welfare concern calls in the past decade, an average of about 150 a year.

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