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EMU student Julia Niswender murdered, medical examiner rules

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By Taryn Asher
Fox 2 News

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- The death of an Eastern Michigan University student in December is officially ruled a homicide.  Meantime, the person who killed 23-year-old Julia Niswender is still on the run.

"As a mom, I want to know what happened to her.  Why did this happen to her?  Who did this to us?  Why did they do that to Julia?" said Kim Turnquist.

However, six weeks after the college junior was found dead inside her Ypsilanti apartment, police know very little about this mysterious crime at have released even less, only announcing Tuesday the medical examiner ruled it was a homicide and toxicology results were inconclusive.

"Okay.  Anything else?  No.  They said the information that we have is very, very good and we're just going to continue on as we have been doing.  I don't know how to feel," said Jim Turnquist, Julia's father.

Jim and Kim Turnquist of Monroe are going over Julia's final days trying to offer detectives any helpful details.  It's a tough task because they haven't talked to their daughter in the few days leading up to her death.

Julia never showed up at her work Christmas party the night of December 11.  At the same time, we're told one of her roommates was also concerned.  She hadn't seen Julia in a few days and noticed her car never moved outside the apartment.

Police were called to check on Julia that night and found her dead inside her locked bedroom.  There were no outward signs of trauma, but there were some indicators of foul play.  Exactly how she was killed is still unclear.

"It's very hard to go through every day because I cry.  I sleep with her robe at night, and I pretty much cry myself to sleep at night knowing that I won't get to see her, hug her, kiss her.  I find myself staring at Jennifer a lot," Kim said.

Jennifer is Julia's twin, a spitting image of her sister.  Last Friday, she was forced to celebrate their 24th birthdays alone.

"I lost my best friend, that she'll never be back," she said.  "We all want to know and we all want answers as soon as we can, but we can't.  We have to be patient."

With the help of Michigan State Police and university police, Ypsilanti detectives say they are following several leads.  In the meantime, family and friends hope and pray for closure.  They won't rest until they get justice for Julia.

"Our worst fear is that when we find out who did it that it's someone that we know," said Jim.

The family says that investigators do know more, but they're keeping some of these details to themselves because they are following some leads and they don't want to jeopardize this case.

If you know anything about this crime, you are asked to call Ypsilanti police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-OUT.

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