Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Murder of Julia Niswender

 

Julia Niswender was a young student with her whole life ahead of her when her life was tragically cut short in December 2012. The then-23-year-old was a student at Eastern Michigan University, where she was studying communications. At the time of her death, Julia lived with a roommate in an off-campus apartment in Ypsilanti. It was inside this apartment that Julia was brutally murdered.

Julia's roommate was reportedly not present at the time Julia was killed. The two were keeping in touch via text, but at some point, Julia stopped replying. She also abruptly stopped communicating with her other friends and family members. Julia's loved ones began to have serious concerns when they learned that she had not shown up to a friend's Christmas party, nor had she shown up to work. Police were subsequently asked to perform a welfare check at Julia's apartment on December 11th, 2012. 

When authorities entered the apartment, they found the residence in disarray. Inside the bathroom, officers stumbled upon a tragic scene: Julia was dead. She was found face down in the bathtub. Her clothes had been cut off, and her phone was found beneath her body. Julia also had ligature marks on her wrists, suggesting she had been tied up at some point before her death. 

Julia's death was quickly classified as a murder. An autopsy declared that her death was caused by asphyxiation due to drowning, but authorities maintain that she was deprived of oxygen prior to being put in the bathtub. DNA was collected from the murder scene, which was matched to two different males. Investigators also found seminal fluid on Julia's body, which was linked to a male who had gotten a vasectomy. 

Julia's stepfather, James Turnquist, was labeled a person of interest early on into the investigation. Turnquist had undergone a vasectomy procedure, so there was speculation that the seminal fluid found on Julia's body belonged to him. Additionally, a friend of Julia's told police that Turnquist had sexually abused Julia during her childhood. Oddly enough, said friend would later deny making such claims.

At some point throughout the investigation, Turnquist was arrested on charges of child pornography. However, those charges were later dropped. Turnquist reportedly underwent two polygraph examinations while being questioned about Julia's case, and he passed both times. The DNA found on Julia's murder scene was compared to Turnquist's DNA, but the results were inconclusive. One DNA sample was too weak to make a match, and the other sample was not matched to Turnquist. While many still suspect Turnquist is responsible for Julia's death, he has never been labeled as a suspect by authorities. 

As of today, Julia's case remains unsolved. No suspects have ever been publicly named. Julia's loved ones are still dedicated to finding justice, and they hope to see her killer(s) get convicted. If you have any information that could lead to the arrest in Julia's case, please contact the Ypsilanti Police Department at (734) 483-9510.

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