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Posted on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

2 candlelight vigils planned to remember EMU student Julia Niswender

By Katrease Stafford

Editor's note: This article has been updated with information about a second vigil planned.

Eastern Michigan University students have organized a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the EMU student who was found dead in her apartment Tuesday night.

The vigil for Julia Niswender will take place Friday night at 8:30 p.m. on campus at Big Bob's Lakehouse.


Julia Niswender

Photo from Facebook

The lakehouse is located at 900 Oakwood St., near the EMU student center.

The student organizers are asking attendees to bring their own candles. The students will be accepting donations for the Julia Niswender Fund, which has been opened to help the family with expenses.

A second vigil is planned in Niswender's hometown of Monroe. That one will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Munson Park located at 2770 N. Custer Road.

EMU student Rachel Weyhing is organizing the event to remember Niswender. University officials are expected to attend the candlelight vigil as well. EMU President Susan Martin has indicated she will attend.

Weyhing said Niswender's twin sister, Jennifer, was her suite mate when they lived on campus together. In addition to Jennifer, Weyhing said Niswender leaves behind a younger sister.

"She is one of my best friends." Weyhing said. "Julia came with the package and was a very close friend of mine. When I heard the news it was heart wrenching and I've been in touch with Jennifer and the family. They're not getting any information either."

Weyhing said Niswender was a bubbly individual, with many dreams and aspirations.

"She was one of a kind," Niswender said. "She always had a smile on her face and she was so outgoing and loved life. Even when things may have gotten hard, she had a positive attitude... She was on track to graduate next year."

The campus community has banded together to show its support for Niswender, Weyhing said, and are all hoping answers will be given soon.

"We're very much in shock at this point," Weyhing said. "A bunch of us got together last night and we just want to know what happened."

Weyhing said she decided to hold the vigil to allow the community to pay respects to Niswender.

"We're hoping for a pretty large crowd," Weyhing said. "Even if Julia didn't know them or did, it kind of gives back to the family."

Weyhing could not confirm whether family members will attend the vigil because another vigil is being planned in Niswender's hometown of Monroe for Friday night as well.

Niswender, 23, a junior at EMU, was found dead in her apartment about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in Peninsular Place apartments in the 1000 block of Huron River Drive, across the street from the campus in Ypsilanti. Police were dispatched to the address to conduct a welfare check of Niswender after family and friends had not heard from her in a couple days.

Police announced Wednesday they were investigating Niswender's death as a possible homicide.

EMU spokesperson Walter Kraft said in an email to the campus community late Thursday afternoon that the university has "moved quickly to expand" its campus safety and security efforts.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Please edit the format of this post. The linking and bolding are set incorrectly.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

Thanks for pointing it out Epengar, we fixed the coding glitch.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

The problem of human existence: In this unfortunate death of a young college student, I look for answers to the problem of human existence. I am surprised to note that the autopsy results are not conclusive. Many substances that cause death do so because of their effects on the major organs, and organ systems which lead to failure of vital functions like respiration, and circulation. All said and done, the nature of human existence is fragile and hence all of us have to be vigilant about the factors that may compromise the existence.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

I'm confused; the first article described it as an "apparent homicide," apparent meaning clear, unambiguous, easily understood ... Now it is being described as a "possible homicide." Can anyone explain the degradation of classification? (e.g., not enough evidence to hold an outside party accountable?)


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

"apparent" has more than one definition. It can also mean "seeming real or true, but not necessarily so" or "according to appearances, initial evidence, incomplete results, etc.; ostensible rather than actual." So I think that by calling it an "apparent homicide" the Ypsilanti Police were saying "it looks like it could be a homicide, so that's how we're responding to it for now."