By Alyssa Schnugg
This week marked one year since University of Mississippi student Alexandria “Ally” Kostial was found murdered near Sardis Lake.
While the man charged with her murder, Brandon Theesfeld, was arrested within days of her death, little has happened in the case against him in the better part of the year, according to court records in the Lafayette County Circuit Court in Oxford.
The COVID-19 pandemic and two judges retiring in June have stalled jury trials and other court proceedings in all cases, said Lafayette County Circuit Court Clerk Jeff Busby.
However, it is likely the case against Theefeld wouldn’t have moved forward anyway. Murder trials often take two or more years before coming before a jury or a judge for a change of plea.
Kostial’s body was found near Sardis Lake in Harmontown, a town north of Oxford in Lafayette County, Saturday, July 21, 2019. According to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, a deputy making a routine patrol found her body near the lake.
She had been shot several times. The full autopsy has still not been released by the State Medical Examiner’s Office, due to a back-log of cases, according to Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy.
Two days later, Theesfeld, 21, of Fort Worth, Texas, was arrested in Memphis and charged with murdering Kostial. In August, a grand jury indicted Theesfeld on charges of kidnapping and capital murder.
A motive for the murder has not yet been released by investigators. According to friends and family members, the two had known each other for several years and that Theesfeld had often treated Kostial poorly.
Theesfeld, also a UM student at the time, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and is still being held on bond at the Lafayette County Detention Center, according to Sheriff Joey East.
If convicted, Theesfeld could face the death penalty.
Kostial, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, was about to enter her third year in the university’s School of Business when she was killed. She was studying marketing and was a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.
Kostial, 21, served as President of the Golf Club and was a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Ole Miss Rho Tau Chapter.
“It’s been a year since our brother, Ally Kostial, has passed away. Ally was a kind and beautiful girl and was a friend to everyone that knew her. She will forever live on in the hearts of her brothers in Alpha Kappa Psi,” the organization stated Monday on its website.
She also worked for campus recreation and was known throughout the university for her heavy involvement with student organizations.
A pilates and yoga instructor in Oxford, Kostial was known for her energetic and encouraging style. The Alexandria “Ally” Kostial Mind and Body Fund was established in September to raise funds to name the South Campus Recreation Center’s Mind and Body Studio after Kostial.
As of Friday, requests for information on whether or not enough funds have been raised or if the studio will be named after Kostial have gone unanswered by the university.
Kostial’s murder took place two months after the murder of another woman who was also shot to death, allegedly by men who claimed to love them.
Dominique “Lucy” Clayton, 31 and a mother of four, was found shot to death in her home on May 20, 2019. Two days later, Matthew Kinne, a patrol officer with the Oxford Police Department at the time, was arrested and charged with her murder.
Police and family said the two were in a relationship despite Kinne being married. He was with OPD for four years before being terminated after his arrest.
In August, Kinne was indicted for capital murder and is being held at the Union County Jail awaiting trial.