Autopsy conducted on EMU student

YPSILANTI, Mich., (WXYZ) - The Wasthenaw County Medical Examiner has conducted an autopsy on the 23-year-old Eastern Michigan University student found dead in her apartment on Tuesday and listed the cause of death as "pending."

The examiner says there were no outward signs of trauma to the body, but there are indicators of possible foul play. 

The toxicology report should be available in 2 to 3 weeks. 

The death of Julia Niswender has students worried about safety after police call it an apparent homicide but release little information surrounding the circumstances.

Police found the student dead in her off campus apartment around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I came in this morning and our department secretary stopped me because she knew I had Julia in class," said Professor Geoffrey Hammill.  He tried to talk about Niswender but then was at a loss for words when he started to describe how vibrant she was.

Niswender's roommate called police because she had not seen or heard from her in a few days.  They lived in the Peninsular Apartments just north of campus.  The way the apartments are set up inside, students tell 7 Action News, that it is possible not to know if your roommate is inside their room or not and not see them for a few days.

"They share a living room and a dining room and their own bedroom.  Some have their own bathroom.  Some share a bathroom," said Bernoris Carter.  He said each bedroom has a lock with a key. "You get your own key and everything so you can lock it from the inside and the outside," he said.

Ypsilanti Police have released little information surrounding the circumstances of Niswinder's death.  The lack of that information has frustrated students who want to know how concerned they need to be for their own safety.

"I haven't heard anything so far as what or how," said Jenee Moore.

The university held a forum this afternoon to try and answer questions and offer safety tips.  EMU Chief of Police Bob Heighes urged students to travel in groups and use the SEEUS program.  The program is a buddy system run by students to walk with other students around campus after dark.

"I might start using it more often, take more precautions because there they are right there, so," said Jenee Moore.

Niswinder started at EMU after she graduated from community college.  Her family lives in Monroe and she has a twin sister.  She was a Communications major on track to graduate next year.

The university is handling the death of this student much differently than when they investigated the death of another student named Laura Dickinson almost six years ago.  Dickinson had been found in her dorm room in December of 2006.  Even though there had been evidence of sexual assault, the university covered up the murder.  The way it was handled eventually led to three administrators losing their jobs, including the university president and public safety director in charge at that time.

If you have any additional information regarding the death of Julia Niswender you are asked to contact Detective Sergeant Thomas Eberts at 734-482-9878 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAKUP.

Julia's family has set up a trust fund in her honor at any Monroe Bank & Trust, under the Julia Niswender Benefit Fund. The Rupp Funeral Home in Monroe is handling the funeral arrangements.

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