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Posted on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Sister of Julia Niswender: I vow to live every day in memory of her

By Katrease Stafford


Julia Niswender, left, and twin sister Jennifer, right, shared a close bond.

Photo from Facebook

Twin sisters Julia and Jennifer Niswender often described their bond as one that was unbreakable and unwavering in love. That is how Jennifer will continue to remember her relationship with her sister as she seeks answers after Julia's untimely death this week.

"She was my best friend and part of me," Jennifer said. "I can't even begin to describe our bond because no one will ever know. I can't even use words. Everyone has siblings, but no one will know the bond between two twins."

Julia, 23 and a junior at Eastern Michigan University, was found dead in her apartment about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in Peninsular Place apartments. The apartments are located 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 Julia after family and friends had not heard from her in a couple of days.

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The family is trying to piece together what happened to Julia and find answers, but Jennifer has vowed to try to be strong and live every day for her sister.

"That's what she would want me to do," Jennifer said. "I'm going to live every day and I'm going to dedicate every day to her. (We're) going to find out what happened and get whoever did that... That's what she wants. That's all I can do."

Jennifer said for her parents, the loss of a daughter is unimaginable.

"We’re trying to take it day by day," Jennifer said. "They have a lot going on to prepare. Everyone is very sad. I can't describe how they feel, They lost a daughter. I lost a sister. I don’t have kids, but I can't imagine losing a daughter."

Jennifer said her sister was outgoing and always had a positive spirit.


Julia and Jennifer Niswender with their mother, Kimberly Turnquist.

Photo from Facebook

"That was one way people could tell us apart," Jennifer said. "I'm more laid back. She was very friendly and trusting and she just lived life. She loved her family and friends so much. She would always let me know how much she loved me."

The family has received dozens of phone calls, emails and text messages from friends and even strangers, expressing their condolences and love. Jennifer credits the support as one of the things helping help her make it through the loss of her sister.

"It's been amazing," Jennifer said. "My best friends, and hers too, haven't left my side. My entire extended family has been here and even my Meijer and her Walmart family, the whole community has. I can't thank everyone enough."

Jennifer works at Meijer and her sister worked at Walmart.

Jennifer said she's also heard from several people who have also been faced with the death of a twin.

"People that I don't know that have twins have been messaging me and sharing kind words and that's what's been pushing me through," she said. " Hearing those stories of others who have lost their twin. ...That's why I'm doing a little better today."

Jennifer, who graduated from EMU in April 2012, said the university community has also offered support. Julia was set to graduate next year.

"Even though I'm not up there anymore, even though I don't see them," she said, "they have been so supportive. Those are true friends. (President) Susan Martin, I can't believe she said those kind words. I'm so thankful she did."

EMU held a meeting for students Wednesday at which Martin spoke.


Julia Niswender met journalist Anderson Cooper during a trip to New York.

Photo from Facebook

Julia had aspirations to go into the field of electronic media and film and had the chance to meet journalist Anderson Cooper during a trip to New York that she cherished.

"She so badly wanted to finish school because she wanted to pursue her dreams," Jennifer said.

EMU professor Megan Gore said Julia was one of her "favorite" students and like many, is devastated by the loss.

"She was passionate about her studies in electronic media," Gore said. "She strove to do her best no matter what the assignment was. Several weeks ago she took a trip to New York with our electronic media program and was so excited to share with me her experiences."

Two candlelight vigil services will be held Friday evening in remembrance of Julia, with one in her hometown of Monroe. That one will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Munson Park located at 2770 N. Custer Road. Jennifer said the family is requesting attendees consider wearing Julia's favorite colors, pink and zebra print.

"She just loved pink and zebra," Jennifer said. "Everything was like that in her bedroom and her clothes, things in her car, and her phone case. She was always so girly."

The other vigil will be held Friday night at 8:30 p.m. on EMU's campus at Big Bob's Lakehouse. The lakehouse is located at 900 Oakwood St., near the EMU student center.


Julia Niswender at the Rockefeller Plaza NBC Studios in New York. Niswender wanted to pursue a career in electronic media.


EMU student Rachel Weyhing organized the EMU event and university officials, including President Martin, are expected to attend the candlelight vigil.

Jennifer said she will try to attend the vigil, although she isn't sure her parents will be able to. Jennifer said if she has enough strength, she will prepare and share a statement about her sister at the event.

"I am going to try my hardest because my EMU friends and community have been so supportive and I want to be there for them," she said.

Besides Jennifer and her parents James and Kimberly Turnquist of Monroe, Julia is survived by younger sister Madison Turnquist.

A viewing will be held at Rupp Funeral Home, 2345 S. Custer Road Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

A funeral service will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at Redeemer Fellowship Church at 5305 Evergreen Dr., in Monroe. Burial will follow at Erie Union Cemetery.

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



Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

My heart goes out to this family.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

such a tragic,tragic story.somewhere out there there is is a very evil person or people.How could you do this to her and her family?Prayers for the family. R.I.P. JULIAN YOU WILL BE MISSED.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

A very tragic loss for all who knew her. My condolences to all.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

This is such a sad and tragic story. My heart goes out to this family. I hope some answers are uncovered soon. It just seems odd that so little information is being released, but maybe in time we will know more.


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

So very sad. Our thoughts are with Jennifer and her parents.

Silly Sally

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

It would be very interesting to know what the police asked the roommates about who visited her in the days just before, if they are saying that her death was homicide, "as she seeks answers after Julia's untimely death this week". And, what the roommates replied in return. I'm glad that She has been given support, including that from the administration of EMU. I hope that she finds answers and some sort of closure.