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Posted on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Julia Niswender case: Few new details emerge

By Katrease Stafford

A day after police confirmed that Eastern Michigan University student Julia Niswender was drowned in the bathtub in her apartment in December, few new details emerged in the investigation Wednesday.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Khaalid Walls Wednesday confirmed Niswender family statements that Homeland Security Investigations is assisting in the case.

Also, Julia Niswender's sister confirmed reports that police said her body was found in "an unnatural position" in the bathtub in her apartment, leading investigators to believe she was not taking a bath when she died. Jennifer Niswender, Julia's twin sister, declined to say whether her sister was found clothed in the bathtub.

Ypsilanti police Chief Amy Walker said police have no suspect information or description to release.

"The suspect is still at large, which is a concern for everyone, especially the police," Walker said. "But there is no new information in this case for the public to look for a specfic description of a suspect at this time. ... We are doing everything we can to identify that person."

Niswender, 23, was found dead Dec. 11 in her off-campus apartment in Peninsular Place Apartments in Ypsilanti. Police have said since then that they are investigating the case as a homicide but until Tuesday had released no details.


A private investigator is offering a $10,000 reward for information regarding Julia Niswender's death.

Courtesy photo

ICE is participating in the investigation at the request of Ypsilanti police, Walls said. "Homeland Security Investigations or HSI is supporting the investigation with computer and digital forensic expertise through our cyber investigations unit," he said.

Walker, who confirmed Tuesday that Julia Niswender died of asphyxiation associated with drowning, said the department is continuing to actively investigate the case as a homicide.

While stressing there is no need for the members of the public to be on high alert, Walker said they should remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings and contact the department whenever they see something out of the ordinary.

"There are inherent dangers every day and people should take the necessary steps to protect themselves from any kind of crime the best way that they can, are able, and comfortable with," Walker said. "I understand the public's concern. The Ypsilanti Police Department investigates thousands of cases every year. Homicide investigations are sensitive and complicated, some solved within a short period of time and others take great lengths of investigations and time to solve."

Walker said investigators have interviewed more than 100 individuals in connection with the case. Jennifer Niswender said interviews have taken place with people who live in Ohio all the way up to the Upper Peninsular.

Jennifer told Tuesday that Julia's apartment was found in disarray and "couple of things were missing." Jennifer also said the door to Julia's apartment was locked, but declined to say whether her keys were included in the missing items.

Jennifer said police have told the family there were no signs that a "sexual assault or struggle" took place.

The Niswender family recently announced a $10,000 reward that is being offered for more information regarding her death. The reward is being offered by the Duvall Group Investigations PLLC.

Individuals with information are being asked to contact the Michigan State Police at 1-800-SPEAK-UP or the Ypsilanti Police Department at 734-483-9510.

Crime reporter Kyle Feldscher contributed to this report.

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



Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 9:07 a.m.

Katrease, Thanks for the update. I think all of us are desperate to find out what really happened in this case. I am wondering if the roommate was a friend or was matched by the Peninsular Place complex. Do you know? I'm not saying it is pertinent to the crime in any way, just wondering if the other person knew the deceased very well. Thanks again for the update. Cash


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 4:23 a.m.

This is such a sad story. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. I am so very sorry for your loss. May Julia rest in peace. While I understand that the level of reporting can't exceed the information available I cannot understand the caliber of reporting that is too often found in "contact the department whenever they something out of the ordinary." Can we have a complete sentence? "There are adherent dangers every day..." The word is INherent. Big difference. To use a Michigan expression......geez-oh-pete. No disrespect intended. Just a plea for journalistic competence.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Really? You can't understand why has the "caliber of reporting" it does? You can't understand why a news resource, for which everyone pays $0 for to access online, doesn't have enough money to hire a copy editor to review stories for typos and clarity? And also likely has the staff they DO have running around doing multiple jobs so proof-reading multiple times doesn't occur? This is the fact of news life in the 21st century - people don't want to pay to have news staff gather & report the news. Quality is going to suffer as result. I wish it didn't -- so there were not typos, wrong word choices or confusing sentences, but that's the way it is. You literally get what you pay for.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

Thanks for pointing out the errors. I just corrected them in the story.

Honest Abe

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

Prayers to the family.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

As a student of Eastern Michigan I find it disturbing that we were not given more information about this case sooner. If I were a female I would be very unnerved.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

Has the possibility of accidental or self-inflected deaths been completely ruled out?


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

@djacks24, so now the family and police are "trying to convince" the public of something? Did you just make that up? The police are investigating the situation as if it were a homicide because they are a well-trained and professional department, and that's how suspicious deaths are supposed to be investigated. You can believe what you want, and I am pretty confident in guessing that neither the police nor the family will lose any sleep over it.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

As far as information on a toxicology report or even remotely addressing concerns the possibility of accidental death, authorities and the family seem to be more focused on trying to convince the public it was a homicide.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.



Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

Terrible tragedy. I hope the police commit resources to this case and find the thug that committed this crime.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

Since nobody has bee caught yet, it be best to keep an open mind and not rule anybody out, male or female.