Suspect charged with murder in death of Ole Miss student
A Texas man is charged with murder after the body of a 21-year-old University of Mississippi student was found near Oxford over the weekend.
On Tuesday, the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrested and charged Brandon Theesfeld with the killing of Ally Kostial, the sheriff’s office told CNN.
Citing the ongoing investigation, the sheriff’s office declined to release more details.
“We want to thank the family of Alexandria for their patience and their trust,” the department said.
Theesfeld attended the same business administration school at Ole Miss as Kostial, said university spokesman Rod Guajardo, who added that Theesfeld is now suspended. Prior to Ole Miss, Theesfeld attended but did not graduate from Fort Worth County Day, a private, non-denominational school, for two years ending in 2014.
Theesfeld’s attorney, Swayze Alford, has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Daniel Theesfeld, the father of the suspect, said he knows his son is innocent.
“And I have reasons to believe that I can’t share anything now. But I would ask everybody to please give him the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise,” Daniel Theesfeld said in a statement released to CNN affiliate WMC.
Lafayette County sheriff’s deputies found Kostial’s body Saturday while they were on patrol near Sardis Lake, about 30 miles from the northern Mississippi campus, CNN affiliate KMOV reported.
Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy told CNN the investigation is ongoing.
“The reason we haven’t updated case information to this point is out of respect for Ally, her family and to preserve the integrity of our investigation,” Kennedy said.
Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Capt. John Poulos confirmed to CNN that state investigators are assisting the sheriff’s office. The University of Mississippi Police Department and Oxford Police Department are also assisting in the case, as authorities follow multiple leads to determine how Kostial ended up near the lake, WMC reported.
Kostial was working toward a bachelor’s degree in marketing, University of Mississippi Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said in a statement.
“Ally was a valued member of our campus community,” Sparks also stated. “We extend our deepest sympathy to her family, friends and classmates and stand ready to support them during this time.”
Anna Pasco, one of Kostial’s friends, told WMC she was shocked.
“She quite possibly was the nicest human being that I’ve ever met,” Pasco told the affiliate. “It’s just hard for me because all I can think about when I see her face is what she went through, what she was thinking, what she was saying. It’s hard.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the distance from campus where Kostial’s body was found. She was found about 30 miles away.
CNN’s Amanda Watts, Marlena Baldacci, Dave Alsup, Artemis Moshtaghian, Kaylene Chassie, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Konstantin Toropin and Susan Scutti contributed to this report.