Former Ole Miss student Brandon Theesfeld pleads guilty to killing Kostial, sentenced to life

Published 12:39 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

More than two years after the body of Alexandria “’Ally” Kostial was found near Sardis Lake, her family found closure.

Brandon Theesfeld pleaded guilty to first degree murder and admitted shooting Kostial multipe times in July 2019. Theesfeld was facing a capital murder charge, but defense attorney Tony Farese and the State of Mississippi agreed on reducing the charge to murder in the first degree. 

Judge Kelly Luther presided over the change of plea hearing at the Lafayette County Courthouse on Friday and accepted Theesfeld’s plea. The charge of first degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

According to Mississippi law, Theesfeld is eligible to petition for a conditional release at the age of 65 and once he has served 15 years of his sentence.

At the start of the proceedings, Farese presented the court with the mental evaluation conducted on Theesfeld in October 2020. The evaluation determined that Theesfeld was found competent and sane as well as mentally competent to stand trial if one was needed.

During the hearing, assistant district attorney Mickey Mallette read aloud the State’s evidence and presented the facts of what let to Kostial’s murder in the early morning hours of July 20, 2019.

Mallette stated that the evidence showed Kostial and Theesfeld met at the University of Mississippi and that their friendship would turn romantic from “time to time.”

On April 12, 2019, Kostial informed Theesfeld she was concerned she might be pregnant and two days later sent him a photo of an inconclusive home pregnancy test. She wanted to get together with Theesfeld and talk in person about the potential pregnancy.

According to Mallette, Theesfeld’s internet search history during this period of time revealed he searched for abortion pills and abortion services.

Contact between the two became “exclusively electronic” at that time, according to Mallette, and over the next three months Kostial “pursued” an in-person meeting with Theesfeld. He agreed to meet but would fail to show up or back out at the last minute for various reasons.

In early July 2019, Kostial’s requests to meet with Theesfeld became more frequent and urgent. On July 12, Theesfeld informed Kostial through text messages that he did not want to talk and that she should just get an appointment and that talking wasn’t necessary.

Farese spoke with members of the media following the hearing and confirmed that Kostial was never pregnant during the period of time in question.

“There was an allegation that (Kostial) was pregnant. The evidence showed she was not pregnant,” Farese said. “The autopsy showed that she was not pregnant and there was no evidence that she had been pregnant. But, that was part of the underlying theme of their relationship.”

On the same day, Theesfeld left Oxford for the Dallas-Fort Worth area where his father, Daniel Robert Theesfeld, lived.

Two days later, Theesfeld posted a photo on social media of a Glock model 22 .40 caliber pistol with the caption, “Finally taking my baby back to Oxford.” According to the evidence presented, the pistol was purchased by Theesfeld’s father.

On the same day he posted the photo of the pistol, Theesfeld also searched the internet for silencers and suppressors for that model of gun.

Theesfeld traveled back to Oxford on July 16, 2019, at approximately 6:30 p.m. His internet history on that day included searches for hollow tip ammunition, tactical face masks and how convicted serial killer Ted Bundy lured victims, according to the state’s evidence.

The following day, Theesfeld returned to Oxford with the pistol and for the first time he initiated a message to Kostial, asking to meet. Up to that point, Theesfeld had been against meeting in person.

On July 18, 2019, Theesfeld texted Kostial and told her that they could figure it out and asked her if her house was private, according to evidence presented at the hearing. On July 19, Theesfeld texted Kostial and asked if she would be home so he could visit.

Kostial informed Theesfeld she was going out that evening and at 9:06 p.m. he texted her back, asking her to let him know when she was home, because her house was private.

At 11:52 p.m. Kostial was seen on a surveillance camera leaving a bar on the Downtown Square. She took an Uber to her home where she arrived safely at 12:10 a.m.

At 12:46 a.m. on July 20, Theesfeld’s truck was seen on video traveling on West Oxford Loop towards Kostial’s residence at The Retreat. At 1:14 a.m., his truck was seen once again on camera at the same location, driving the opposite direction.

Over the next 40 minutes, GPS location maps show both Kostial and Theesfeld’s cell phones traveling through the City of Oxford towards the location near Sardis Lake where Kostial’s body was found hours later.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. a resident of South Sardis Lake heard gunshots, according to testimony.. At 2:50 a.m. GPS data showed both cell phones traveling back towards Oxford and at 3:28 a.m., Theesfeld’s phone registered back inside the Oxford city limits. Theesfeld’s internet history also showed searches for how to listen to police scanners.

Roughly three hours later, GPS location data showed Kostial’s phone halfway between Batesville and Oxford on Highway 6 and at 6:45 a.m. Theesfeld was seen on video at a convenience store in Batesville in his truck. Two minutes laters, Kostial’s phone was in the same location.

Theesfeld then texted someone at 7:56 a.m., asking if he could come over because there was an exterminator at his house. The state’s evidence revealed that after talking to the apartment manager where Theesfeld lived, that information was determined to be false.

At 8:18 a.m. Theesfeld then searched for “Sardis, Mississippi news.”

Over the next few hours, GPS data showed Kostial’s phone to be in similar locations at similar times in Batesville, Memphis and back to Oxford. At approximately 9:58 a.m., Theesfeld arrived at his friend’s apartment where he stayed until approximately 1:28 p.m.

Just before 10:30 a.m., Kostial’s body is discovered by deputies of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department on routine patrol near the Buford Ridge area of Harmontown. At the scene, 11 .40 caliber shell casings were found. Kostial’s purse was found about one-third of a mile away from the scene.

Ballistics tests confirmed the shell casings and the bullets found inside Kostial’s body matched the pistol Theesfeld brought back to Oxford from Texas.

The last GPS transmission from Kostial’s phone was at 1:28 p.m. on July 20 in an area behind Waller Funeral Home in Oxford.

On July 21, Theesfeld texted another friend asking if he could come over due to exterminators at his apartment — the evidence showed this was once again false. Theesfeld arrived later that afternoon, still in possession of the pistol which was seen by his friend.

Law enforcement officers contacted Theesfeld on the same day, asking if he could come and speak with them. Theesfeld agreed but failed to appear. Officers then called Theesfeld back, who informed them he had been drinking and did not want to come and talk while intoxicated. He agreed to come in early the next morning, July 22, but once again failed to appear.

Theesfeld was then apprehended later that day at a gas station in South Memphis, still in possession of the pistol.

During the investigation at his apartment, a legal pad was found that contained a two-page handwritten letter by Theesfeld to his family.

“I’m not a good person. It is not your fault,” the letter read. “Something in me just doesn’t work. I’ve always had terrible thoughts. I’ve always had these feelings. I just kind of felt off. I think this is the end for me. I’m either going to prison or going to die. I know I’m going to get caught.”

Both of Kostial’s parents provided statements, which were read by Mallete to the court. Kostial’s mother, Cindy Kostial, spoke at length in her statement about the love she had for her daughter and of future moments Theesfeld took away from Kostial, her mother and the rest of her family.

“I wish I could have kept her away from this evil, callous, scheming, ungrateful, sinister and violent and corrupt monster,” Kostial’s mother’s statement read. “He had every opportunity to do good in the world, but he chose to do evil. Brandon, you belong in jail each day for the rest of your life for the heinous act you committed to such a sweet soul in Ally. Every time your cell door slams shut may it be a reminder for what you did and the life you took from us.”

Prior to the conclusion of the hearing, Theesfeld read a statement he had prepared, apologizing to the Kostial family.

“I am sincerely sorry for the pain I’ve caused while taking Ally from you,” Theesfeld said. “My actions have forever changed your lives and my family’s lives. I wish I could take it all back but I can’t. There is no excuse for my actions and I have asked God for forgiveness. I hope one day that you will find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Both the Kostial and Theesfeld families were present at the hearing.