The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Jan. 29 the death of Eastern Michigan University student Julia Niswender was a homicide, but the nearly seven-week wait for the toxicology results yielded no conclusive information, the Ypsilanti Police Department said.
Ypsilanti police Lt. Deric Gress said there is not a specific person who has been identified as a suspect at this time.
“The detectives are processing and following up on evidence and information constantly on a daily basis, and to release information prematurely could hinder the case,” Gress said.
A statement from the YPD said while the department recognizes and understands the public’s interest in the Niswender homicide investigation, Ypsilanti Police detectives, the Michigan State Police and Federal agencies are continuing to utilize all available tools and investigate all possible leads.
Gress told AnnArbor.com releasing more information to the public was discussed with the detectives in charge of the case, and they advised against it.
“It could jeopardize how we go forward from here. We understand the public’s concerns, but we owe it to the family and to Julia to do it the right way,” Gress told AnnArbor.com. “If it was my family member, I would want the police to do everything to catch the person. But, you still have to prove it and you don’t want to make it easier for them to get away.”
Niswender’s father Jim Turnquist told Fox 2 News Ypsilanti police said the information they have is “very good,” and they’re going to continue the investigation as they have been doing.
“Our worst fear is that when we find out who did it that it’s someone that we know,” he told Fox 2 News.
Niswender’s mother Kim Turnquist said she is confident the YPD and Michigan State Police will solve her daughter’s case.
“They keep close contact with us,” she said. “Patience in this has been hard, but the family is coping with it as best we can because our mission is to find justice for Julia and we will get it.”
Niswender, who was 23 at the time, was found dead Dec. 11, 2012, locked in her bedroom in the Peninsular Place apartment complex about a block north of EMU’s campus on North Huron River Drive in Ypsilanti.
The medical examiner performed an autopsy Dec. 12, 2012, and while there were no outward signs of trauma to Niswender’s body, there were indicators of possible foul play.
Niswender’s mother told Fox 2 News she wants to know what happened to her daughter.
“Why did this happen to her? Who did this to us? Why did they do that to Julia?” she told Fox 2 News.
Niswender’s mother said volunteers will be coming to the EMU Student Center Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Feb. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. to sell “Justice For Julia” T-shirts ($10) and bracelets ($5), and the proceeds will go toward a scholarship for twins (Julia is survived by her twin sister Jennifer, who was also an EMU student).
“We will have a table set up in the Student Center there on campus,” she said. “We will be handing out fliers with her picture and the tip line number as well. This will be the first of many volunteers combing the campus to put Julia’s picture out there. I am hoping to draw out the person or persons who may know something about Julia’s death.”
“Thank you for all the support once again that EMU students and staff has given my family,” she added.
Police ask anyone with information or tips regarding this case to contact Ypsilanti police Sgt. Tom Eberts at 734-482-9878 or report an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAKUP (773-2587).
In an email to students and university employees, EMU President Susan Martin said counseling services are available on campus for students and other members of the EMU community.
Free counseling is available for EMU students and employees at Snow Health Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit the Counseling and Psychological Services website at www.emich.edu/caps/.