Prosecutors in Montgomery County are once again reaching out to the public, offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps solve a 30-year-old cold case in Lansdale. Investigators have offered a reward in recent years, but there are still no answers about the death of 18-year-old Julie Barnyock.
On this day in 1993, Barnyock went missing after taking a SEPTA train back to Lansdale Station from her job in Philadelphia. Barnyock called her mother from a payphone around 12:20 p.m. and asked her father to pick her up after her train had arrived about 40 minutes earlier. When he arrived to pick her up, she was nowhere to be found.
Barnyock’s family reported her missing to New Britain Township Police. The search lasted three weeks before her body was found on Dec. 2 at the SEPTA/Conrail rail yard in Lansdale. The body was badly decomposed; Although newspaper reports said Barnyock was naked from the waist down, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that her lower half was clothed.
An autopsy showed Barnyock died of a blunt force head injury, prosecutors said. Her death was ruled a homicide.
“Our investigators continue to review this case and look for anything that might help us. Now we are once again asking for the public’s help.” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. “Someone somewhere knows something.”
Over the years, investigators have interviewed hundreds of people about the events that led to Julie’s disappearance. Authorities could be narrowed down to at least three suspects in the early years after her death and linked her to Barnyock, using circumstantial evidence and other crimes accused of them to support her theories. None of these suspects were ultimately charged with Julie’s death.
Investigators were unable to collect much evidence at the site where Julie’s body was found. Between Barnyock’s disappearance and her discovery, there was severe weather in the area, investigators said.
Newspaper archives, including a Philadelphia Inquirer report from the time Barnyock’s body was found, noted that she appeared to have been beaten with a blunt instrument and investigators said her face was no longer recognizable.
Julie’s father, Joseph Barnyock, reportedly told investigators that his daughter often called home to be picked up from the Lansdale train station. He said she was visiting a friend and a friend gave her a ride to Fern Rock Station in North Philadelphia to catch the R5 train back to Lansdale.
The Inquirer reported in 1993 that Julie’s father said she sounded “a little scared and worried.”n the call she made to her mother from the train station and that ishe quickly hung up.
Barnyock was living at home with her two younger sisters at the time and planned to enroll in an educational program at Bucks County Community College.
In the years since Barnyock’s murder, her parents told investigators that she had frequently been on South Street in Philadelphia, befriending and helping homeless people and others in the area. Investigators reportedly suspected that Julie may have become involved with someone who eventually took her life.
Steele said any information prosecutors receive could be useful in moving the case forward.
“Please share any information about Julie’s movements that day, anything you saw on the train or at the station that night,” 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.