Julia Niswender case: Few new details emerge
- Previous coverage: Family: EMU student Julia Niswender was drowned in bathtub
- Ypsilanti police chief confirms Julia Niswender was drowned in bathtub
- $10K reward offered for information in Julia Niswender killing
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.
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 AnnArbor.com 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.