Brandon Theesfeld has been identified as the suspect in the murder of his 21-year-old University of Mississippi classmate Alexandria “Ally” Kostial, according to police. Ally Kostial, a St. Louis native and Ole Miss senior, was found dead the morning of July 20 near a remote lake in Lafayette County, Mississippi, about 20 miles from her college’s campus in Oxford.
Kostial was shot eight times, sources told WLBT-TV. Sources also told the news station’s Therese Apel that all of the shots were to her torso and stomach area. Preliminary autopsy results released on July 24 revealed she died of multiple gunshot wounds and her death has been classified as a homicide.
The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations put out a press release on July 23 confirming Theesfeld’s arrest. “As stated in the earlier press release we are not releasing details of the investigation. We will release it when it is appropriate and not before,” Major Alan Wilburn said in a statement. “We want to thank the family (of) Alexandria for (their) patience and trust in the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department.”
It is not clear if Kostial was killed at the lake or if her body was brought there after she was already dead. Police have not said what kind of weapon was used to kill Kostial. An acquaintance of Theesfeld, who asked to remain anonymous, told Heavy that Theesfeld would carry a Glock handgun in his truck that held eight rounds.
Online jail records show that 22-year-old Brandon Theesfeld is being held at the Lafayette County Jail on a murder charge. Theesfeld was arrested in Memphis at a gas station by local police at 9:30 a.m. on July 22, authorities said. He was taken back to Mississippi and booked into custody.
Theesfeld is a Texas native and is also a senior at the University of Mississippi, according to his Facebook page. Photos from his arrest in Memphis show several officers surrounding his Dodge Ram pickup truck that was parked at a gas pump.
According to Fox 13 Memphis, investigators tracked Theesfeld to the gas station in South Memphis using his cellphone and credit card activity. He was spotted entering the store at the station wearing an Ole Miss shirt. After his pickup truck was spotted by a patrol officer, police swarmed the gas station and blocked Theesfeld in, the news station reports.l He was taken into custody there by Lafayette County deputies. Sources told the news station that Theesfeld’s clothes appeared to have blood on them and a weapon was found inside his truck.
Police have not released details about how Theesfeld and Kostial knew each other or if they were in a relationship. They followed each other on Twitter and were pictured in photos on one of Kostial’s social media profiles posted in December 2016. Her friends and family told WREG-TV that Kostial and Theesfeld had dated in the past.
Theesfeld’s 20-year-old sister is in the same University of Mississippi sorority chapter that Kostial was a founding member of, Alpha Phi. One of Kostial’s close friends wrote on Twitter, “He harassed her for years, took advantage of her for years, I spent countless nights holding Ally close drying her tears about this monster for years. You deserve hell you disgusting excuse for a human. #JusticeForAlly You will never diminish her sunshine.”
A motive in the shooting is also not known. Investigators have said they need to remain tight-lipped in order to not jeopardize the investigation. Theesfeld and his family could not be reached for comment by Heavy. His attorney during his first court appearance, Swayze Alford, has declined to comment. He is now being represented additionally by high-profile Oxford attorneys Tony Farese and his brother, Steve Farese.
“Of course, he’ll plead not guilty at this point in time,” Steve Farese told WMC-TV. He said they are preparing their defense. “We’ll certainly try to obtain copies of police reports. We’ll interview witnesses. We’ll go to the scene in question and we will look at the forensics.”
Theesfeld’s father, Daniel Theesfeld, told WMC-TV’s Kendall Downing, “I know my 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.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Kostial family with funeral expenses. Her funeral will be held at Concordia Kirkwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri. The public visitation will be Friday night, July 26 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the funeral will be Saturday, July 27, at 10 a.m.
Here’s what you need to know about Brandon Theesfeld and the murder of Ally Kostial:
1. Kostial Left Her House Sometime After Midnight Saturday & She Was Seen on Surveillance Video at a Market Near Where She Was Found Dead, Police Sources Tell a Local News Station
According to WLBT-TV, Ally Kostial was seen on surveillance video stopping at the door of a bar in the square in Oxford, Mississippi, Friday night. According to the news station, she didn’t go into the bar, she just paused, turned and walked out of the camera’s view.
Kostial’s roommates told police she went to their Oxford home about midnight, but at some time after that left again, the news station reports. Her roommates told police they didn’t hear her leave, according to WLBT-TV.
The news station, citing police sources, reports that Kostial was seen on surveillance video at Lakeside Market in Como, near where she was found dead.
Police had declined to release many details in the case, citing the ongoing investigation. Brandon Theesfeld was taken into custody just before 3:45 p.m. on Monday, July 22, according to jail records.
Kostial was found at 10:23 a.m. in Harmontown, Mississippi, near Sardis Lake, which is about 20 miles from the University of Mississippi’s Oxford campus, where Kostial had been living for the summer. The sheriff’s department said it was “apparent that foul play was involved” in her death.
Sources told WLBT that Kostial’s body was found by deputies near Buford’s Ridge. The remote area includes a fishing camp and an area where locals and college students ride ATVs on weekends when the water is low. According to the news station, the water was high on Friday and Saturday, so there was less activity in the area.
Neighbors told WMC-TV that they were surprised to see emergency responders in their small and remote neighborhood. “I was sitting on the couch and saw the ambulance go by and was curious and went outside and then the next thing I know the coroner came by and two unmarked vehicles,” Michelle Bramlett, a neighbor, told the news station. She added, “I just can’t imagine what the parents are going through right now and their family. It’s just very devastating.”
Another neighbor, Jim Bob Bromley, told WMC, “You shouldn’t have to bury your kids. Nobody can describe that kind of pain and it’s forever. It doesn’t go away. It gets better but it doesn’t go away.”
2. Theesfeld, Who Is From Fort Worth, Texas, & Graduated From San Marcos Academy, Was Called a ‘Daddy’s Boy’ Who Was ‘Arrogant & Misogynistic’ by His Former Dormmate
According to his Facebook page, Brandon Austin Theesfeld is from Fort Worth, Texas. Theesfeld says on Facebook that he graduated in 2016 from Fort Worth Country Day School, but a classmate tells Heavy that Theesfeld actually graduated from San Marcos Academy, a private Baptist boarding school about 3 and a half hours south of Fort Worth.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Theesfeld left Fort Worth Country Day because of academics after attending the high school from 2012 to 2014. He then enrolled in San Marcos Academy.
Theesfeld has been studying at Ole Miss since 2016, according to his Facebook page. Jail records show that Theesfeld was born April 5, 1997. University of Mississippi officials told student journalist Rex Ravita that Theesfeld has been suspended from the school after his arrest. Theesfeld was a business student, Ravita reports. Ally Kostial was also in the business school.
A photo on a Facebook page belonging to his father, Daniel Theesfeld, shows Brandon Theesfeld shooting a gun. His father captioned the photo, “My son Brandon Theesfeld Gun tactile expert. I had more fun than I say.”
Theesfeld appears to have been in the ROTC program at San Marcos Academy.
His father, Daniel Theesfeld, is a doctor in the Fort Worth area, who owns and operates the Pain Management Center of Texas, according to his Facebook page. His father is divorced from Brandon’s mother, Kery Ann Campbell Clay.
Theesfeld has two younger sisters, one of whom is also a student at the University of Mississippi, according to the 20-year-old’s Facebook page. She is a member of Alpha Phi, according to photos on her Facebook page, the same sorority that Kostial belonged to.
Online records show Theesfeld was arrested in Walton County, Florida, in 2015 on a misdemeanor charge of possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. Adjudication was withheld, meaning the case would be stricken from his record.
Ravita, who is a student journalist at Ole Miss, was also one of Theesfeld’s freshman year dormmates. He told KMOV-TV that Theesfeld was “arrogant and misogynistic.” He added, “I’m not going to sugar coat it, he was pretty much a daddy’s boy type, constantly had to reference his father’s money, how his dad could get him out of anything, just that attitude all the time. Any type of vulgar comment he could say, any type of rude comment to anybody in our dorm, any of the women.”
Ravita told the news station that Theesfeld dated Ally Kostial off-and-on during the more than three years they had spent together in Oxford.
“Of course it was surprising because I knew him and of the situation, but to hear that the circumstances of how and why it happened, it just all clicked and made sense,” Ravita told the news station. “I truly believe that he manipulated her emotionally to have her believe that he loved her the same way she did, and I think he had her on the hook until the very last second.”
“Ally would talk about how crazy aggressive he was,” one of Kostial’s friends told The Daily Beast. “I don’t know how many times she called me about him. About how he was treating her and about how he acted when they were together. We all told her to end it with him, but she always said she saw the good in him.”
3. Theesfeld Was Active on Twitter After Kostial Was Found Dead, Tweeting About His Pick for the Song of the Summer
Brandon Theesfeld was tweeting just hours after Ally Kostial’s body was found by deputies in Lafayette County. At 8:34 p.m., Theesfeld tweeted, “You dropped a bomb on me, my number 1 pick for groovy song of the summer.”
He also re-tweeted a Barstool Sports account with the caption, “very frat.” It is not clear if Theesfeld is a member of a fraternity at the University of Mississippi.
Theesfeld also retweeted multiple tweets on July 21, a day before his arrest.
Theesfeld’s Facebook page provides few details about him. Other than photos, his one public post is from August 2017, when he shared a post by the “Our State Flag Foundation” that was defending a Confederate statue on the University of Mississippi campus. Several people have left angry comments on the post after Theesfeld’s arrest was made public.
4. Kostial Graduated From Lindbergh High School in St. Louis & Was Studying Marketing at the University of Mississippi, Where She Was the President of the Golf Club & in a Sorority
Kostial graduated from Lindbergh High School in St. Louis in 2016. She was an honor roll student and National Honor Society. She was also on the Flyers track and field team. She is survived by her parents, Keith Kostial and Cindy Kostial, and her brother, Andrew Kostial.
She was also a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
“Still can’t believe this is real. I’m so grateful that I got to know Ally throughout high school and we shared so many memorable experiences at Ole Miss together,” her sorority sister, Kassidy Desnoyer, wrote on Facebook. “From road tripping down to Oxford to being my Alpha Phi sister I will cherish all the memories we had together. She was the brightest light and always had a smile on her face. She truly was a ray of sunshine. My heart and condolences go out to the Kostial family❤️”
Another friend, Anna Pasco, told WMC-TV, “She quite possibly was the nicest human being that I’ve ever met. 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. She is a beautiful, beautiful person inside and out and I love her and I’m going to miss her forever.”
Ally Kostial was studying marketing at the University of Mississippi and was set to graduate in 2020. Her father said she was on campus taking summer classes and leading fitness classes.
She was one of the founding members of the University of Mississippi Golf Club and was the club’s president, according to her Linkedin profile. Kostial was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.
Along with her studies at Ole Miss, Kostial was a seasonal lifeguard at a country club in Sunset Hills, near her hometown, and was a group fitness instructor at the University of Mississippi. She also volunteered as a childcare worker in Cape Town, South Africa, for a month in June 2017 and volunteered in a preschool classroom in Peru in June 2018.
Her father, Keith, wrote on Facebook, “Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, we were visited by the Sunset Hills Police who communicated to us that our beautiful dear Alexandria (Ally) Kostial was the victim of a homicide. As of now, it is believed the crime happened in Lafayette County, MS. She had been attending summer school and teaching fitness classes at University of Mississippi, (Ole Miss) In Oxford, Mississippi. She was a 2016 Lindbergh High School graduate. She was only 21. Investigations are ongoing.”
5. Theesfeld Appeared in Court for His Initial Appearance on July 23
Brandon Theesfeld appeared before a Lafayette County judge on Tuesday, July 23, for his initial appearance in court on the murder charge, WLBT-TV reports.
He was recorded by a local news reporter walking out of the courthouse with his hands cuffed in front of him and his ankles shackled. He was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit as he was led to a sheriff’s department car.
According to Oxford Eagle reporter Jake Thompson, Theesfeld appeared before circuit court judge Andrew Howorth. He was held without bail, with a bond hearing set for a later date. Theesfeld is expected to plead not guilty, his attorneys have said.
Theesfeld was originally booked into jail on an investigative hold, which allowed police to hold him in custody for up to 72 hours before formal charges were brought. The Oxford Eagle reports that on Tuesday, hold was crossed out in jail records and murder was written in its place.
The case is being investigated by the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Mississippi Crime Lab Crime Scene Unit. Authorities said they are actively working on the case. The University of Mississippi Police Department and the Oxford Poice Department are also investigating.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department at 662-234-6421 or Crime Stoppers at 662-234-8477.
University of Mississippi Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks issued a statement on Sunday about Kostial’s death.
“We are truly saddened by the death of Alexandria Kostial. Ally was a valued member of our campus community. We extend our deepest sympathy to her family, friends, and classmates and stand ready to support them during this time,” Sparks said in the statement. “We appreciate the work of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department and Coroner as they conduct their investigation.”
Kostial’s friend, Casey Hendrickson, who grew up with her in Missouri, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “She was the happiest and most positive person in the world. The light that she brought into this world was amazing.”
Another high school classmate, Samme Martin, told KTVI-TV, that Kostial was, “Very spontaneous. She would do just about anything. She loved outdoors, she loved just hanging out with her friends, she was the person you always wanted to be around.”
Margaret Illig told the news station, “When I was around her, I just felt like my spirit being lifted.”