You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Julia Niswender's mother: Family still hopeful the case will be solved

By Katrease Stafford


Kim Turnquist, Julia Niswender's mother, is hopeful answers will be found soon in the death investigation. Turnquist was at Eastern Michigan University's campus Monday to raise money for a scholarship established in Julia's name.

Daniel Brenner |

The family of Julia Niswender still is searching for answers and urging people to come forward with information, three months after the death of the Eastern Michigan University student.


Julia Niswender

Photo from Facebook

“That’s what we want, people to talk,” said Kim Turnquist, Niswender’s mother.“As a parent, I don’t want her to become another statistic. We’ll never be at total peace, but as long as whoever is caught, it’ll make it a little easier… .Some days are worse than others, but I made it our promise to find justice for Julia.”

Exactly three months ago, 23-year-old Niswender was found dead in her apartment on Dec. 11 in Peninsular Place Apartments, off campus in Ypsilanti. Police ruled the death a homicide in January but have not released details, including how she died.

Turnquist, twin sister Jennifer Niswender and close family friends were on EMU’s campus Monday to raise additional funds for the scholarship fund established in Julia’s memory.

However, Turnquist said the real reason behind the Monday visit was to ensure that Julia’s case remains active and doesn’t become a cold case.

Turnquist is urging individuals with information to come forward.

"Our main objective today is to get her face out there so people don’t forget,” Turnquist said.

Jennifer said the family has started the process of going through Julia’s belongings, which has been a struggle for them.


The family is selling wristbands and T-shirts in memory of Julia Niswender, with all proceeds going toward the scholarship fund.

Daniel Brenner|

“We take it day by day,” Jennifer said. “It’s hard to let go... I get really angry because I have a hard time adjusting to being by myself. She was always there.”

Turnquist said right now, the family is going through a phase where their feelings range from anger to sadness, all the while holding out hope their questions will be answered soon.

“How could someone do this to another human being,” Turnquist said. “I wonder, why Julia? What did she really do to someone to make them do this? My plea is, please come forward. How can you live with that guilt? I don’t understand how someone could still be walking around every day.”

The last update released by police was in January, and police said they are still continuing to investigate the death.

Turnquist said her family has been in regular contact with the police department and believes investigators are doing all they can to solve the case.

“They are working hard on the case every day and they keep us updated,” Turnquist said. “They tell us what they can.”

Turnquist said while she understands the public wants more details about what happened and who is responsible, the police department is unable to release every detail right now due to the sensitivity of the case.

“I just want people to understand that the reason a lot of details haven’t been realeased is so it doesn’t jeopardize the case and that’s the last thing anyone wants,” Turnquist said. “It’s hard, but we understand it and they’re doing what they can.”

Turnquist said her family isn’t just reaching out to local agencies and individuals to keep her daughter’s name out there, but the likes of journalist Anderson Cooper, Comedian and TV hostEllen Degeneres, and TV host Nancy Grace.


Julia Niswender and Anderson Cooper

From Facebook

Friends and family members have sent several messages and posts in an effort to gain Niswender’s case national attention, which they hope would bring about answers.

Niswender had the opportunity to meet Cooper on a school trip, nearly a month before her death.

“Julia loved Anderson Cooper,” Turnquist said. “ We’re hoping Anderson will look at it.”

The scholarship fund, which has been established in Niswender’s name has raised about $8,000 so far, Turnquist said. The fund is just $2,000 short of the $10,000 goal, which would enable it to become endowed.

“Eastern was such a big part of Julia’s life and they have been so supportive,” Jennifer said. “I don’t know how we would be dealing without it.”

Turnquist said the support her family continues to receive from EMU, the local community and even individuals from other countries has helped her deal with the loss of her daughter.

“The support we have gotten from people through social media and from all over the world, that’s comforting,” she said. “Just to see how much others care about human beings, it’s overwhelming… Julia is definitely smiling down on us.”

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



Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

it will be solved sooner or later.the longer it takesv the more heartache there is for the family.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:03 a.m.

if the cops have any idea at all the need to make a move.if they don't why don't they? should turn it over to the State Police. for what it's worth i think Julia was poisoned with a chemical that was fast reacting on her and left the body equally as fast. meanwhile the family twists in agony.GIVE THEM SOME CLOSURE.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

No news is not necessarily good news in these cases. If the police thought they were dealing with a maniac, that would have been brought to light already and the public warned. I think the case has more to do with young adults making some really bad choices. There may be no particular culprit to arrest in this case. But who knows?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:05 a.m.

Something or someone killed's the cops job to figure it out.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

"a lot of details haven't been realeased" (sic)


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Investigation of Death: There are established standards for investigation of death in all countries apart from the United States. I had served in military camps and stations where we do not allow civilian police to enter the camp without permission. When a military person dies in our camps, we conduct the inquiry and make a determination about the cause of death. Under the regulations, only death due to murder is reported to police for further action. All other deaths, we conduct a court of inquiry and police inquiry is not allowed. I have been reading all these posts about Julia's death and yet I am not able to know as to when she died. She was found dead on December 11 and it does not mean that this fact was established by her autopsy. To investigate death, we have to first establish the precise time of death. If this is a secret, don't ask people to come forward with information.

Rob Pollard

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Why would Anderson Cooper, or any other TV person, take on this case? What could they talk about for a decent length TV segment? There has been so little information released by the YPD (and what has been released is typically general and inconclusive), you would just end up wildly speculating - which, granted, is sometimes the nature of those shows, but I don't see how it would be helpful in this case. Are the police looking for a man? Men? A woman? Did Julia know the alleged perpetrator? A vehicle description? Someone who was at a certain location earlier in the day? There's nothing to go on.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 9 p.m.

We are contacting them in hopes of getting this story in the Media more so it doesn't turn into a cold case and so IF someone has information they will report it. If it were your child, you would do the same.

John Counts

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Every time I speak with Ypsilanti police about other matters, I ask how this case is going. There may not yet be any new information to report, but I can tell you this: the detectives sound determined and are working their tails off.

Atticus F.

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

How is it going to look if eventually somebody IS charged in this case, and the prosecuter go's before the jury and says "there are no signs of truama, the toxicoligy test are inconclusive, and we really don't know how she died, yet we are going to charge one of her associates (or a stranger) with murder"? At one point questions were asked as to weather any of the other students were in danger?... It looks like they are still refusing to answer those questions. Maybe they feel as if the privacy of the family somehow overides the safety of the community.

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

More information about the scholarship can be found in this article: The family told me they're going to be taking a break from coming up to EMU to raise funds, but for those who still want to contribute, donations can be made to the Julia Niswender fund, which is also being called the Justice for Julia fund. It's set up through the Monroe Bank and Trust. Those who do not live in the Monroe area can send checks or money orders to 102 E. Front, Monroe St., Monroe Charter Township.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 4:11 a.m.

My heart goes out to the family. Mom and Sis: Keep on Keeping On! Washtenaw County is a College Community and your daughter/sister's case Must be Solved! All of us are crying-out for Closure! Ypsilanti PD: Get 'er done! We need the Straight Story on the circumstances of Julie's Tragic Death.


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

My guess is that we'll not hear much more about this. If the police thought they were dealing a homicidal maniac on the the loose, the public would have been warned. My sense is that the police are dealing with some sort of situation where a young adult made some bad decisions. I think the family would prefer the public not know all the details.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

The "straight story" is that she was found dead in her apartment and her death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiners office. Who or want caused her death may never be known. That's the reality of life. Not every criminal leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to his or her door, like they do on TV, and many crimes go unsolved. That's the way it is. Uncertainty is a fact of life. All anyone can ask is that everything that can be done is done, and it appears that is happening from what the mother says. Every police dept. in the country has a drawer or a file that contains at least a few 10 or 15 or 25 year old unsolved cases.

Honest Abe

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

It seems since the Laura Dickinson case was botched, that the police may not release anything until they know for sure, even though YPD did not handle the Dickinson case. Now, the last we heard, there was no signs of trauma found, and toxicology tests were 'inconclusive'. I may not be Dick Tracy, but with that said, there is a very limited list of causes they could be possibly looking at. And out of those causes, barely any are likely to be the case here. By the way - Is this investigation coming down to toxicology tests, to solve? Who knows but.... Based off the length of time this is taking, and I feel awful for the family by the way, and just the overall direction this investigation has been going along with what police HAVE released, I'm going to go on a limb and say that the Homicide status will be changed to another status. I know YPD will do their best, but hopefully they can finish this and give the family some sort of closure. I know they want to do things right, but you usually do not hear of it taking this long to determine a cause of death. If they do no


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

How about both of you please be respectful & don't get into an arguement on here. The family reads this and so do the friends and the last thing they need is un-needed drama.


Wed, Mar 13, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

Actually, I know quite a bit. So, if you feel it's necessary to express your point, go for it.

Honest Abe

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

@MathGeek: I could and should, shred your reply into little pieces to the point to where it would show you do not know what your talking about, for the most part. You also are interpreting my comment much different than other readers. I suggest you get your facts correct before you reply to my comments. Now, if you want, we can have a knock out, drag out conversation right here, if you choose. That's up to you! The only thing I'm going to use to muddy up the waters, is your words. Now, run along....


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

You're right, Dick Tracy you are not. The Laura Dickinson 'case' was not botched. The investigation went very well, and they got the right person. The handling of the details is what was botched, and the part that was botched was not releasing details, specifically that they suspected foul play, to the public. The difference between that case and this case is jurisdiction. EMU is required to make the public aware of certain crimes under the Clery Act (which they did in this case due to the proximity to campus), but YPD is under no obligation to release details.....even if/when they know for sure. EMU got into hot water because there was suspicion of her death not being from natural causes, and they didn't alert the community, nothing else. Don't muddy the waters with what happened to Julia by bringing up something that is unrelated.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

"The fund is just $2,000 short of the $10,000 goal, which would enable it to become endowed." - So I suppose we have to call EMU to find out how to donate to this scholarship? I'm sure others are of the same mind: praying that the police break this case.


Fri, Mar 15, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Actually if you want to donate to the scholarship I know her twin Jennifer and can get the information for anyone who would like to donate to the scholarship!


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Lorrie ...Why do you believe the police are sitting on this case? Doesn't make sense..the police would do all they could don't you think.....

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Every time I speak with this family, I marvel the strength and hope they continue to have. I truly hope they receive answers soon.

Lorrie Mayzlin

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

She DESERVES answers, and why Ypsilanti is just sitting on this case is very baffling... in addition, it puts EVERY SINGLE STUDENT on WCC and EMU campus at risk!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

@Newman: I don't doubt that if the public were in danger, the police would tell us - which says a lot about the circumstance surrounding Ms. Niswender's death.

Alfred E. Newman's Ghost

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

I am surprised so many people (2 comments and 10 votes down as of now) would dismiss Lorrie's concerns. It would be helpful if the police could at least indicate whether they believe the killer is active and dangerous. On what basis should we feel safe?


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Hey......I thought all caps was a violation and deletion occurs if you use all caps.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Perhaps you should loosen your grip on the caps lock and re-read the article, specifically the parts where the victim's mother says the police are doing all they can, are working on the case every day, and are keeping her informed of developments. The only thing you're at risk from is an unchecked imagination.


Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

At risk of what?


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

Can't understand why this is dragging unless they have an internal issue and do not want to expose information that may break the case, other than that I can't imagine how the family feels that they are being left out.

Joker Man

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

The least they could do is let us know WHY they think this is a homicide without exposing the fine details that could jeopardize the case. The public cares and they can and will help!

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.

The longer this case remains open, the worse I feel for Julia's family and friends. My greatest sympathies to them.