Roommate, 26, calls 911 to admit murdering renowned sculptor, 92

Roomate and ‘mentee’ of well-known artist phoned police on herself

Gino Spocchia
Friday 30 July 2021 15:13
<p>Julia Birch, 26, admitting to murdering 92-year-old roomate</p>

Julia Birch, 26, admitting to murdering 92-year-old roomate

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A 26-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with murder after she admitted to the death of her 92-year-old roommate, police have said.

Julia Birch, who reported herself to Montgomery County police on Wednesday morning, told officers she murdered renowned artist, Nancy Ann Frankel, whose body was found in the home by officers.

Ms Birch was allegedly staying with Ms Frankel, who had taken in a number of young women over the years for art mentoring, her neighbours told The Washington Post. She had been staying at the property for a number of months.

Montgomery police said Ms Birch was known to Ms Frankel’s family. According to reports, their relatives had met through working with the Catholic church in Maryland.

Ms Birch was arrested shortly after 8,20am and taken to the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit for further interviewing, police said.

She again told officers she had killed Ms Frankel, and that she called 911 to report the death afterwards. Investigators were able to recover evidence from the home, confirming the claim.

The Post reported that a charging documents indicated Ms Birch suffocated Ms Frankel, although it remains unclear, and no motive has been confirmed by police.

Nancy Finkel appearing at a gallery talk in 2019

Ms Frankel’s work has been exhibited in the US and internationally, with her geometric-shaped sculptures currently on display at institutions including the University of Durham, in the UK, and at the University of Maryland.

She studied at the Tyler School of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as the Art Academy in Munich, Germany, where some of her earlier work was also put on display.

Ms Birch was charged on Wednesday with first degree murder. She is being held without bond, and an autopsy is scheduled for 29 July to determine a cause and manner of death.