BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) - The family of a slain 18-year-old University of Texas student urged mourners at a funeral on Saturday to remember the young woman’s joyful life, not just the way it ended.
Haruka Weiser’s 16-year-old brother, Noboru, spoke on behalf of the family during the funeral in Beaverton, Oregon, recalling sleepovers, good-natured teasing and other moments from their childhood.
“But while there is sadness in this room,” Noboru Weiser said, “we are grieving about a short time in a life. When we look back at her 18 years, it is a remarkable life, not a sad one.”
Haruka Weiser was killed earlier this month at the University of Texas, where she was a freshman dance student. Her body was found in a creek on the Austin campus on April 5, and police have said she was likely targeted at random.
Meechaiel Criner, a 17-year-old runaway, has been charged with murder in connection with Weiser’s death.
Weiser is survived by her brother, her 14-year-old sister, Naomi, and her parents, Thomas Weiser and Yasuyo Tsunemine. Noboru said the family wanted people to remember his sister so that her joy can continue to grow in the hearts of those who love her.
“She will love forever,” he said. “She will never die.”
Mourners filled Beaverton’s Holy Trinity Catholic Church for the service. Haruka Weiser was a 2015 graduate of the Arts & Communications Magnet Academy in Beaverton, where a candlelight vigil was held in her honor earlier this month, and a memorial scholarship fund was created in Weiser’s name last week. At the vigil, mourners hung colorful lanterns, released dove-shaped balloons and shared their memories of the teen.
At Saturday’s funeral, Father Dave Gutmann told attendees that it’s impossible to protect loved ones, despite best efforts. To live, one must assume risk, he said.
“It’s still not enough,” Gutmann said. “We are reminded of how vulnerable our fragile life is.”
Family friend Tanya Firemoon said Haruka was lucky to come from a home filled with joy.
“The Weisers are very beautiful people,” she said. “They adored their star dancer.”
Weiser’s family asked that no photographs be taken during the funeral.
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