Julia Niswender, 23, was found dead alone in her locked bedroom after concerned friends called police. A medical examiner found no evidence of physical trauma. The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner has listed the cause of death as “pending.”
So why do police think it is possible she was a victim of foul play?
Ypsilanti police tell 7 Action News the way in which she was found was “unusual.” That is the extent of the information they are sharing, because they say they have to protect the integrity of the investigation.
“It is so close and it is right here. Is it something that could happen to me?” asked Rachel Iaquaniello, an Eastern Michigan University student who lives in the apartment complex where Julia was found.
The Pensinsular Place Apartments would not allow 7 Action News on the property. We asked to speak with them about how management is addressing resident safety, we were told they had no comment.
“Is it involved with people that are in my apartment complex? Am I in danger still?” asked Iaquaniello.
Police say one of the challenges they face when dealing with residents at the apartment complex is that often roommates are strangers. Leases are done by the bedroom in many cases, not by the apartment.
Who could possibly kill Julia? Right now everyone is a suspect, police say. They are interviewing many who are close to her or simply interacted with her, hoping to piece together what led to this mysterious tragedy.
Her family describes her as loving, happy, and fun. They can’t think of any enemies.
Classmates and professors at EMU have been signing a poster on the wall of the Quirk building, where the Communications Program Julia was studying is based out of. They are writing notes about Julia.
"We shared the same radio and TV broadcasting course this semester," said Princess Gabbara, a 21 year old classmate of Julia's, after signing the poster. "We weren't extremely close, but from the couple of times we talked, she was a really nice girl. She was always so lively in class. I never saw her in a bad mood. I'm keeping Julia and her family in my thoughts and prayers."
Two vigils are held in Julia’s honor Friday night. One will be in Monroe at 6:30. The other will be at the Eastern Michigan University Lake House at 8:30.
Ypsilanti Police say they will likely have to wait for answers as to how Julia died. They are waiting on toxicology test results they suspect will rule out accidental death or suicide. Those results are expected to be back in about two weeks.
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