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November 08, 2023

Montgomery County authorities offer $10,000 reward to solve woman's cold case murder

Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of the day 18-year-old Julie Barnyock went missing in Lansdale. Her body was found in a SEPTA yard three weeks later

Investigations Cold Cases
Julie Barnyock Case Source/Montgomery County D.A.

Julie Barnyock, 18, disappeared Nov. 8, 1993 after catching a late-night train from Philadelphia to SEPTA's Lansdale Station in Montgomery County. Her body was found in the rail yard three weeks later. Investigators are offering a $10,000 reward as they try to solve the 30-year-old cold case.

Prosecutors in Montgomery County are again turning to the public with a $10,000 reward for information that will help solve a 30-year-old cold case in Lansdale. 

On Nov. 8, 1993, 18-year-old Julie Barnyock went missing after she took a SEPTA train from North Philadelphia to Lansdale Station. Barnyock arrived at the station around 11:40 p.m. About 40 minutes later, she called her mother from a pay phone and asked for her dad to come pick her up.  

But when Barnyock's dad got to the station, Julie was nowhere to be found.

Barnyock's family reported her missing to New Britain Township Police the next morning. A search continued for three weeks before her body was found Dec. 2 in the SEPTA/Conrail freight yard in Lansdale. Her face had been beaten and her body was badly decomposed. An autopsy determined Barnyock died from a blunt force head injury, prosecutors said. Her death was ruled a homicide. 

At the time her body was found, some newspaper reports said Barnyock was naked from the waist down. The Montgomery County D.A.'s Office said Wednesday that her bottom half was clothed, contrary to past coverage of the case over the years. 

"Our detectives continue to go over this case, looking for anything that could help us. Now we are again asking for the public’s help,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. “Someone somewhere knows something."

Detectives have interviewed hundreds of people about the events that led to Julie's disappearance. Authorities narrowed in on at least three potential suspects in the early years after her death, linking them to Barnyock using circumstantial evidence and other crimes they had been accused of to support their theories. None of these individuals ultimately faced charges in Julie's death. 

Investigators were not able to gather much evidence from the scene where Julie's body was found. There had been severe weather in the area between the time of Barnyock's disappearance and when she was located, investigators said. 

Newspaper archives, including a Philadelphia Inquirer report from the time Barnyock's body was found, noted she appeared to have been struck with a blunt instrument and investigators said her face was no longer recognizable. 

Julie's father, Joseph Barnyock, reportedly told investigators his daughter would often call home to be picked up from Lansdale Station. He said she had gone to visit a boyfriend that night and that a friend of hers had taken her to Fern Rock Station in North Philly to catch the R5 train back to Lansdale. 

The Inquirer reported in 1993 that Julie's father said she "sounded a little scared and apprehensive" in the phone call she made to her mother from the train station, and that she hung up quickly. 

Barnyock was living at home at the time with her two younger sisters and was planning to enroll in an education program at Bucks County Community College. 

In the years since Barnyock was killed, her parents told investigators she used to frequent South Street in Philadelphia and had befriended and helped homeless people and others in the area. Investigators reportedly suspected Julie had possibly gotten involved with someone who ended up taking her life. 

Investigators have offered reward money in years past, but still have not been able to find Barnyock's killer. 

Steele said any information prosecutors receive could be valuable in moving the case forward. 

"Please share whatever piece of info about Julie’s movements that day, anything seen that night on the train or at the train station," Steele said. "Many old cases are solved when someone comes forward with information that seems insignificant but turns out to be helpful in finding a murderer.”

Anyone with information about this case can call the Montgomery County Detective Bureau at (610) 278-3368 or the Lansdale Police Department at (215) 368-1801.