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Posted on Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Family: EMU student Julia Niswender was drowned in bathtub

By Katrease Stafford

Eastern Michigan University student Julia Niswender was found drowned in the bathtub of her off-campus Ypsilanti apartment, her family confirmed Tuesday.

The 23-year-old's cause of death is asphyxiation associated with drowning, said Jennifer Niswender, Julia's twin sister. Police had ruled the Dec. 11 death a homicide in January, but have not released many details about the case, including the cause of death.


A reward is being offered for more information regarding the death of EMU student Julia Niswender.

Courtesy photo

Jennifer said Julia's bedroom was found in a disarray and "a couple of things were missing."

"They (investigators) have polygraphed over 100 people and everyone has passed," Jennifer said. "Homeland Security and State Police are working together on this case. They have been conducting interviews with people in Ohio up to the Upper Peninsula." is working to confirm the involvement of federal agencies. Ypsilanti police could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Niswender was found dead in her apartment on Dec. 11 in Peninsular Place Apartments.

Jennifer said she hopes with the cause of death being released and the recent announcement of the $10,000 reward will spur people to come forward with information.

"We have known just for a little bit of time but it's now being able to be released," Jennifer said. "It’s a weight off of shoulders because people ask all the time. Now that people will know, we’ll have answers. We’ll never know why this person did it but we’re hoping the reward will jog people's memory."

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



Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 4:24 a.m.

so many unanswered questions.bring Michigan State Police in.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker confirmed the cause of death with me. Here's a new story with more information:

Julie Baker

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

We just published an update with confirmation from police Chief Amy Walker on the cause of death and that police still are investigating it as a homicide. Read more:


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Is there anywhere we can donate to the reward fund?

Jack Gladney

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

The poster at the top of the article: DuVall Group Investigations. P.O. Box 1822, Monroe, MI 48161. Attn: Justice for Julia


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

Aren't they still investigating Whitney Houston's bathtub drowning? How many of us have dozed off in a tub of hot water and quickly snapped to as the water was at mouth level? Not that it happened here. Sounds more than suspicious.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

How much is the Whitney Houston reward? oh. and why is that?


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

fact: I've never fallen asleep in the tub

Jack Gladney

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

Getting info to a public willing to help a grieving family seems like pulling teeth. But we have to defer to the pros in these kind of matters, trusting they are doing all they can. Just reading Julia's Twitter over the fall months leads to a half dozen questions, all of which would be shouted down as speculation or deleted here. I feel so bad for family, lost for answers.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

Lie detector tests are not allowed in court for a very good reason, they are not 100% right all over the time. (I personally would never take one for that reason) Does sound like this wasn't no accident, sure hope they find something to go on.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

They are not allowed in court but give police a good led on whom to investigate!


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Is there more information that is not posted here? The title of your article implies that someone else drowned her, as opposed to her just drowning on her own. Is there anything new that was released to back this inference up, or is it just typical hack reporting?

Angry Moderate

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 1:35 a.m.

Her body was found in an "unnatural position."

Julie Baker

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

Katrease Stafford just spoke with police Chief Amy Walker. We'll have another update shortly. We're reporting the details as we get them.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

@MoonmanDon - My comment has nothing to do with whether or not it is murder. My comment was meant to point out that this article infers a lot without providing any info that supports the inference. This isn't news, its the opinion of her family supported by nothing but their hopes for an explanation for their daughters death.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

quote from story "We'll never know why this person did it but we're hoping the reward will jog people's memory." Even her sister says it was a murder.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

How does her apt being messy and a few things missing translate to someone drowned her. If my mom had walked into my apt in college after my death I'm pretty sure she would have said that my apt was in disarray and a few things were missing.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

They said her appt was a mess and items where missing..quote the story...... Jennifer said Julia's bedroom was found in a disarray and "a couple of things were missing."


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

How does it take this long to release information on cause of death? Seems obvious. Mean while the killer is on the loose. Sure makes me feel safe at Eastern, not!


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.

Cause you got the cops worrying about not causing a panic. Her family released this info, not the police.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

Thank-you for this information. Hopefully, this will lead to a successful investigation.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

Thoughts to the family and friends of Julia. I just can't compute the fact that there were no outward signs of trauma, and the toxicology report was inconclusive. In my mind, a person would either have to be drugged severely to drown, or she would have had a very violent struggle with any person attempting to drown her. Neither of these signs appear to be present. Something doesn't add up.

T Boy

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

@ happydave57: "they could be knocked unconscious, and by the time they come to, it is too late....." I never would have thought I find reason to laugh as I read this article and it's comments, but thanks. - with thoughts of Yogi Berra.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

@Tag and Paul: If she slipped and hit her head, it is extremely likely there would be signs of physical trauma on her scalp or skull (and/or other locations). Same goes if she, as Paul so eloquently put it, "just had her had pushed down and held until she passed out." A person would be fighting for their life - there would almost certainly be bruising or other marks on her body.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

Not if she was totally out power. How much off a fight could a young lady put up while taking a bath ? Just push her head under water and hold it down till she passes out. She could have even had her legs or waist pulled by somebody taking a bath with her. It could had been somebody she trusted. If she slip and bump her head--well how long does bruising happen ? I would guess some swelling would still happen and how do you explain items missing from her bedroom ?


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

The police ruled the death a homicide. I suspect that even though the cause of death has been released the police are still holding back plenty of evidence in the case, and rightly so. The room was in complete disarray, leads me to believe a struggle may have happened. I'm not sure why, but I suspect domestic violence. Peace be with the family. I'm sorry for your loss.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

Many people die every year by drowning in their bathtub. It just takes a slip and fall accident, striking their head on the tub. As a result, they could be knocked unconscious, and by the time they come to, it is too late.....