Nearly one year since the murder of their daughter, the family of EMU student Julia Niswender redoubles their efforts to find her killer

I know it’s unlikely that anyone in the audience right now has information pertinent to the Julia Niswender murder investigation, but, having just watched this video of her mother, step-father and sisters pleading desperately for help, I felt compelled to at least ask. As Niswender, an Eastern Michigan undergrad who worked at the Pittsfield Township Walmart, was drowned in her off-campus apartment nearly a year ago, I suspect it’s highly doubtful that an eyewitness will come forward at this point with a detailed description of a person seen leaving her apartment on the day of the crime, but I suppose it’s conceivable that some small clue could surface and point investigators in a new, hopefully more fruitful, direction. At any rate, I wanted to pass along the request of the family. Here they are at yesterday’s news conference.

Fox 2 News Headlines

For those of you unfamiliar with the case, Niswender’s partially-clothed body was discovered last year, on December 11, in the bathtub of her Peninsular Place apartment. According to the police, there were no signs of struggle. The apartment, however, we’re told, was in a state disarray, perhaps indicating that someone was looking for something. Also, given that somewhat valuable items were not taken from the apartment, it’s thought that robbery was not a motive. To date, it would appear, the police have been unable to make any significant headway.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587). According to at least one source, there is also a $10,000 award being offered by Duvall Group Investigations, a company owned by a family friend.

And, while we’re on the subject of local unsolved murders, it looks as though the police may have a few leads in the case of Eastern Michigan University football player Demarius Reed, who was murdered outside his off-campus apartment several weeks ago. According to police, over a dozen search warrants have been executed in connection with the case, resulting in the collection of close to 50 pieces of evidence. As of right now, though, no arrests have been made.

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  1. Carl Allen
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    While I’d like to think that the 14 search warrants and the 42 pieces of evidence seized in the Demarius Reed case will translate into an arrest and a conviction, there’s no telling what’s really going on. Reports on the Niswender case have referenced 10 search warrants and multiple polygraphs, and yet, as we know, the police are no closer to finding a killer today that they were last December.

  2. L.C.
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    It’s frustrating, but it takes time to build a capital case. The last time an EMU student was murdered (Laura Dickinson in 2006) it took almost three months before an arrest was made, and, in that instance, there was DNA evidence. I’d like to think that they have a suspect in the Reed murder already, and that soon we’ll see a resolution, as we did recently in the case of the murdered University of Michigan Med School student. In the case of Niswender, though, it looks like there are no leads.

  3. XXX
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    The Reed case will be solved. There were likely multiple people involved, and, as we know from experience, such cases are usually resolved. Someone will talk. If not now, eventually. One of the men involved will be charged with another crime, and, in hopes of getting a better deal for himself, he’ll say “I was there the night the EMU football player got killed” and turn on the shooter. People who commit crimes like this aren’t smart, as we recently saw with the Paul DeWolf case in Ann Arbor. The Niswender case is different though. The murderer was likely a lone individual, and he apparently did a decent job of covering his tracks. At this point, you can be sure that he’s not going to use one of her credit cards, or make a stupid mistake. The family is asking for him to come forward and confess, but that’s unlikely. All we can hope for is that the police find some clue in looking through her personal items and on-line correspondences. Maybe I’m reading too much into the fact that the apartment seemed to be ransacked, but it sounds as though the perpetrator was looking for evidence of his identity, which would say to me that it was someone who knew her. Maybe it was someone who she dated once or twice. It sounds like the police looked at her online history and questioned those who came up, but maybe they missed someone. Or maybe it was someone she met off the internet and never corresponded with. Or maybe the person who did it was able to fool their lie detector.

  4. anonymous
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    The 1994 murder of EMU student Renee Welka is also still unsolved.

  5. Rob
    Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Not knowing the facts of the case it’s impossible to say. On the face of it, it sounds like it could have been an accidental death. She could have slipped and fallen while running her cath. But the medical examiner says she was in an unnatural position, and I would imagine there weren’t signs that she had fallen and struck her head. If she were held under though wouldn’t there be signs of struggle. Wouldn’t she have thrashed and clawed. It doesn’t make much sense unless she was drugged or something.

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