Stepfather of EMU student is a person of interest in murder case

James Turnquist has been named by Ypsilanti police as a person of interest in the murder of his stepdaughter, Julia Niswender.

Turnquist was arraigned on charges of child pornography Feb. 27 and is currently being held in the Monroe County Jail on a $100,000 bond, MLive reports.

MLive also reports that investigators are concerned that he may have knowledge related to Niswender’s death, but that the pornography case is unrelated, according to a release by the department.

The Ypsilanti Police Department could not be reached for further comment.

Julia’s sister, Jennifer Niswender, thinks that trying to link Turnquist's recent charges back to her sister's death is "absolutely absurd."

"We’ve done nothing but cooperate with the Ypsilanti Police Department since day one – a little over two years now," she said. "We don’t have any idea why they feel like they need to attack my father.”

The Free Press also reports that Turnquist has been cooperative with the media about the case, but police say he is a person of interest because a “formal statement as to his whereabouts in the days prior to Julia’s death” has not been provided.

"I never ever thought that it would ever come to this," Jennifer Niswender said. "You know, our main focus is to find justice for Julia and I feel like they are wasting their time looking in the wrong place.”

Twenty-three year old Niswender was found dead in her bathtub on Dec. 11, 2012, in her Peninsular Place apartment after her roommates called law enforcement because they hadn’t seen her in a few days.

Jennifer Niswender says that it's still hard to deal with the loss of her sister.

“It’s hard. It’s been really difficult and you know, honestly, the media doesn’t help at all," she said. "It’s crazy. It’s like living a nightmare."

Previous reports say that police believe she was asphyxiated and drowned. The investigation is ongoing.

This is a developing story. The Echo will provide more information as it becomes available.


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