5:30 PM EST, December 12, 2012
YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — The death of an Eastern Michigan University student at an off-campus apartment is being investigated as a homicide, police said Wednesday.
The body of Julia Niswender, 23, was found Tuesday night at her apartment across the street from the campus police station. A cause of death was not disclosed and Ypsilanti police weren't releasing additional details.
Police were called to the apartment after a roommate said Niswender hadn't been seen in several days, university President Susan Martin said in a statement to students and faculty.
"Her passing is extremely shocking," said friend Andrew Hoppert, who knew Niswender at Monroe High School, where she graduated in 2008. "Julia was very social and had a large group of friends. ... She had roommates, at least one. She would have never lived alone. That wasn't Julia's style."
Niswender was a junior in the communications, media and theater department, Martin said. She said the university set up a Web page to provide updates on the case and was offering counseling for students and others who want it.
Eastern Michigan is in Ypsilanti, 35 miles west of Detroit. Hoppert said Niswender came to Eastern Michigan after a few years at a community college. Her twin sister, Jennifer, is a recent Eastern Michigan graduate, and they formerly worked together at a Meijer store.
"Those two were inseparable. They could not get enough being around each other," Hoppert told The Associated Press.
Eastern Michigan police Chief Robert Heighes said he was putting extra officers on patrol as campus police work with Ypsilanti police on the case. Heighes and Martin spoke to students at a public forum Wednesday.
"Our campus is safer than ever," Martin said.
Niswender's friend, Jacob McLaughlin, said his last contact with her was Sunday when he received a text message wishing him a happy birthday. He said she didn't report to work Monday at a Walmart store in Saline.
Niswender was interested in broadcasting and had met CNN's Anderson Cooper during a trip to New York, McLaughlin said.
"It's final exams, holidays," he said. "That puts a lot of pressure on college students. But I don't think anything of any nature like that would have gotten to her."
University information on death: http://www.emich.edu/investigation