The murder of a college student serves as a warning tale. A prosecutor said: "Love can blind you"

Investigators discovered the body of Ally Kostial, 21-year-old student at the University of Mississippi, Oxford in July 2019.

The murder of a college student serves as a warning tale. A prosecutor said: "Love can blind you"

It was located near Sardis Lake, a abandoned fishing camp, and they were shocked to discover that someone would take his life.

"When you got there... what did your find?" "CBS Saturday Morning" co-host Michelle Miller asked Lafayette County investigator Jarrett Bundren.

Bundren responded, "A white female lying on the ground... with multiple gunshot wounds to her back." "I have never worked on a murder in which somebody has been shot so many times."
Ally was originally from St. Louis and studied business and marketing. Investigators sought answers, and found them at Ally’s apartment. Although her cell phone was lost, they were able track her life through her Apple Watch.

"And even though she didn't have her phone... some messages still synced with that watch," Mickey Mallette, Lafayette County assistant District Attorney, said.

The stored text messages led Lafayette County sheriff’s deputies towards fellow student Brandon Theesfeld. Three days after Kostial's discovery, he was arrested.

"The hardest thing about it is to go back, and read her messages," said Ben Creekmore, Lafayette County district attorney.

Tony Farese, Theesfeld’s attorney, calls the case "a tragedy Shakespearean proportions."

"In your mind the motive for murder is to?" Miller asked Ben Creekmore, the prosecutor. He replied, "Get rid of the problem."

ALLY KOSTIAL'S LAST HOURS

WREG NEWS REPORT JULY 21 2019, "It's not clear why a 21 year old... student would be in this area 30 miles from campus... Although they have not released much information, authorities did confirm that they suspect foul play. "

Although it has been many years since Ally, Cindy and Keith Kostials' daughter was murdered on July 20, 2019 it still seems real to them.

Keith Kostial It seems like she's still at school.

Cindy Kostial (in tears). And here we are... Still in denial.

Ally had been visited by the Kostials a few days prior.

Cindy Kostial - She wanted to stay for an extra day because she was having so much joy. She asked me to prepare her home-cooked meals. ... We went shopping. We bought some new beach decor for her, as she loves the theme of the sea.

Cindy and Keith were back in St. Louis after Cindy spoke to Ally over the phone hours before her death.

Cindy Kostial - It was almost seven o'clock in the night. She had just woken from a nap to take a test that day. ... I asked her, "What are your plans tonight?" I said, "What are you going to do tonight?" She replied, "I'm going out with some friends."

Twenty-four hours later Lafayette County Sheriff's Department Investigator Jarrett Bundren hoped clues from Ally's Apple Watch would lead to the first break.

Investigator Jarrett Bundren : We're just starting from here.

Michelle Miller - What did she do for you?

Maddy Norris : She was just like my sister.

Maddy Norris was one of Ally's best friends from high school. She tried to understand what had happened.

Maddy Norris : It was almost like I was in shock.

They were inseparable.

Maddy Norris [in tears]: It was almost like Ally was there and Maddy was there. She was my other half. ... We shared many adventures together. ... Girl stuff, such as watching chick flicks and "Legally Blonde", driving in her convertible, and girl things like:

It was time to shop for prom dresses

Maddy Norris - She tried on the red dress. She fell in love with the dress instantly. She called her mother. It was like, "I'm going to have this dress" (laughs).

Michelle Miller Did she have a boyfriend at high school?

Cindy Kostial - She had crushes on boys, but nothing that was ever serious.

Maddy Norris : She couldn't find a date to prom so I asked her for my date.

Ally was delighted to be going to the University of Mississippi after her graduation.

Maddy Norris : She loved... "the preppy lifestyle." ... Very girly, almost like pearls.

Ally arrived in the autumn of 2016. The marketing business major might have had another idea in her head.

Cindy Kostial - She wanted to marry a southern man and have children, and that was the perfect place for her to find her partner for life.

Morgan Hull - By our junior year, we were as thick as thieves and best friends.

Morgan Hull attended college with Ally.

Morgan Hull : Ally loved rearranging her room and decorating it herself.

Elizabeth Brock We are both from St. Louis.

Elizabeth Brock and Ally met at a campus party, where they became fast friends.

Elizabeth Brock : Now, we're like, "Oh my God, how could we not have met up until now?"

Elizabeth claims Ally was fascinated with sunsets.

Elizabeth Brock : She had an Instagram account for sunset photos where she would post pictures of sunsets.

Cindy recalls Ally saying that she had met someone in her freshman year.

Cindy Kostial She stated, "I met that boy, he is from Texas." For whatever reason she loves Texas. She was so excited to invite him to a sorority party. She really loved that boy.

Michelle Miller - What was her first comment about him?

Maddy Norris - She found a handsome man... and was beginning to have a crush.

Brandon Theesfeld, a Fort Worth student, would be the "crush".

Michelle Miller - Was she really excited?

Maddy Norris : Yes. You look like you're wearing heels.

Maddy Norris : I believe she took him to all of the date parties that her sorority hosted.

Maddy was eager to meet Ally when she went to Oxford for a visit. However, things didn't go according to plan.

Maddy Norris: I never met him.

Michelle Miller - You have never met him, he has never come around.

Maddy Norris - Never came around.

Michelle Miller - How did she feel?

Maddy Norris : It hurt her. ... It's like your high school best friend coming to visit you. Your crush is MIA.

Maddy was worried that something was not right with her friend's friendship. Ally was otherwise doing well at college.

Maddy Norris : She loved it. It was addictive. ... Finally, she achieves her goal and is able to live her life.

Her life was ended three years later. Investigators were now racing to find her killer. Ally's Apple Watch was invaluable.

Michelle Miller - What did the watch show you?

Investigator Jarrett Bundren : The watch indicated that she was in a very long text message conversation with Brandon.

Brandon Theesfeld -- Ally’s freshman year crush. It appeared that the two had planned to meet up that night.

JULY 19, 2019, 3:50 P.M.: are you gonna be home today cause i could visit

ALLY'S COLLEGE RUSH

Investigators found that Ally had sent Brandon Theesfeld last text messages. They wanted to speak to him soon.

Investigator Jarrett Bundren : We were... called late Saturday night or early Sunday morning to give an interview.

Investigators tried to track Ally's phone Saturday but it only pinged one time in Oxford before the signal went out. Theesfeld replied but made excuses for why he couldn’t meet with Ally all weekend. Finally...

Jarrett Bundren... He said that he would be there by 8:30 Monday morning.

Michelle Miller: And 8:30 Monday morning came?

Jarrett Bundren: No Brandon.

According to Mickey Mallette, the Lafayette County Assistant District Attorney, that was when he decided to track his phone.

Mickey Mallette : They can see where he's at any given moment in real-time when they do this mid-morning.

Michelle Miller - What did you discover?

Jarrett Bundren : He was heading north on Interstate 55 towards Memphis.

Mickey Mallette - This is probably the most popular way to get to Texas. ... They can see where he is moving away from Oxford.

Ben Creekmore, District Attorney, says that Theesfeld appeared to be on the run so investigators obtained an affidavit for arrest for murder and sent out a bulletin immediately.

Ben Creekmore - When we saw his truck leaving Oxford, we noticed that he had a BOLO on his tag.

Michelle Miller: A BOLO?

Ben Creekmore : "Be on your guard."

The Memphis fugitive taskforce was quick to spot Theesfeld.

Jarrett Bundren - About an hour and half later, two hours later, they found him at the gas station.

Bundren claims that Theesfeld was sat at the pumps in his pickup truck with easy-to-spot plates.

Michelle Miller - The tag on the plates

Investigator Jarrett Bundren: Says "Take it"

Michelle Miller - It's hard to miss.

Jarrett Bundren - It's hard to miss.

Theesfeld was captured by a dashcam being taken into custody. Theesfeld was immediately taken into custody by police in Mississippi.

Ben Creekmore had a 40 caliber gun that was consistent with the calibers of the shell casings found at the scene. He was armed with blood.

Bundren traveled north to pick him.

Jarrett Bundren He was calm. He was calm. ... He invoked his rights and requested his attorney. He was taken into custody in Tennessee. We asked him to sign a waiver of extradition and return to Mississippi. We brought him back after he signed the waiver.

Investigators began to trace the steps of Theesfeld's movements over the weekend that Ally was murdered. They discovered that he was appearing all over Oxford, beginning on Saturday.

Jarrett Bundren : He stayed with a few friends. It was casual, they said. They went bowling, which is normal.

However, he didn't bring anything normal to his friend's house Sunday.

Jarrett Bundren - He claimed he entered his home with a gun... and then unloaded it in the house. ... He brought a six-pack of beer with him and they sat down for a while. ... He was gone when he woke up the next day.

Although Theesfeld was not talking to investigators, he would eventually speak to Tony Farese (an attorney hired by his family).

Tony Farese - He lived a life of promise... and received lots of love from a loving Christian family.

Farese discovered that Theesfeld was a physician's son. He seems to have had a typical Texas childhood.

Tony Farese : He loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing. ... He was a soccer player. ... He has never been in a fight at school. ... He has no history of violence.

Theesfeld met Ally shortly after his arrival in Oxford.

Tony Farese met her at a local bar. They began dating casually in their first year. ... She was probably more in love with Brandon than she was with Brandon, which is quite honest.

Farese says that their relationship was complicated as sophomores.

Michelle Miller - Did he really block her from his cell phone?

Tony Farese: Yes. ... She had been texting him so often... late at nights when she was out drinking and partying that he finally blocked her phone. Yes.

However, something changed in their junior year and they got back to touch.

Tony Farese - I believe she saw it... as a mutually romantic endeavor. Brandon didn't see it that way.

This would explain one thing.

Michelle Miller - When did you first meet him, then?

Elizabeth Brock: I never met him.

Ally's closest friends did not know Theesfeld. Morgan Hull claims she had only met him once.

Morgan Hull - It was so strange that we were best friends and didn't really know each other that well. We didn't even know his name when it happened.

In August 2019, however, Theesfeld's name made headlines. The grand jury was then presented with the case. The evidence consisted of photos of the gun and shell casings as well as a letter that investigators found in his apartment, which was apparently written by Theesfeld on the weekend Ally died. Prosecutors claim it is a confession.

Ben Creekmore - The letter he wrote to his parents... inquisitive about what he did.

Theesfeld stated that he had always had "terrible thought" and that "this is my end... I'm either going into prison or going to death". He wrote, "I know that I'm going get caught."

Michelle Miller: He confessed?

Mickey Mallette - I believe he did. He did not say that he had committed the murder.

Ben Creekmore : One could argue it was a confession or an apology to his parents --

Mickey Mallette - This was an apology.

Tony Farese claims he talked to Theesfeld regarding the letter, and that it was also a suicide note.

Tony Farese He leaves a note of goodbye to his family. He tells them he loves them and he regrets what he did. ... Brandon tells me that he holds the gun to his head, then goes unconscious.

Their indictments were handed down by the grand jury.

Jake Thompson: Capital One Murder.

Jake Thompson was at the time a reporter for Oxford Eagle. He claims that Theesfeld was facing the death penalty for murdering and kidnapping Ally.

Jake Thompson This is what rocks Oxford. Because Oxford takes in these people and they become one of their own for four, five, or whatever time you stay here. It was hard for the Oxfordians as well as the university.

Theesfeld was summoned to court in late September to plead not guilty.

Jake Thompson The big query, you know?... Why did it happen? That was the question we all started to try to answer.

Investigators were hoping to find answers in the hundreds of texts between Ally and Theesfeld. They discovered some life-changing information.

Mickey Mallette - The first messages were sent about it in April.

BRANDON THEESFELD TEXT Do not share it with anyone.

A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP

Cindy Kostial - We are stuck...can't move ahead...days are just rough.

Michelle Miller - When you think about her being absent... What makes you feel?

Maddy Norris - Sad and broken.

While Ally's family and friends waited for Brandon Theesfeld, the prosecutors began building their case. They hoped text messages between them could offer insight into what might have caused her death.

Ben Creekmore We know more about his thoughts and what she might have thought.

Michelle Miller - What was their relationship?

Mickey Mallette - This might vary depending on who you ask. ... It would seem fair to say she looked at the whole relationship with a more serious perspective.

Tony Farese, Theesfeld's defence attorney.

Tony Farese : It was a casual, sexual affair from Brandon's perspective.

Morgan Hull They were not boyfriend and girlfriend. They never went on dates. He didn't pick up her or take her out for dinner. All of this was a lie. He would still tell her that he was not good enough for her, and that's why they couldn’t be together.

Morgan and Elizabeth both said it was an odd relationship that they had over text messages.

Elizabeth Brock He certainly manipulated her.

Elizabeth Brock : We were more upset that he would send us texts or tell us things that were really hurtful to her.

Michelle Miller - So you know she likes this boy.

Cindy Kostial : Yes, yes.

Keith Kostial : She never mentioned him to me over time or that he existed, you know? Even in this scene.

Michelle Miller - Was there something about her behavior that indicated things weren't quite normal?

Cindy Kostial - See, that's what she's always told me about my life. He was never talked to.

Cindy and Keith claim they have not seen their daughter's text messages that were discovered by investigators.

Cindy Kostial : We haven't seen any of it.

Michelle Miller - Will you?

Cindy Kostial - I don't know how I can.

Ally was preparing for spring semester finals in April 2019, three months before her passing. Ally was focusing on a different type of test, a home pregnancy test. This was something her mother didn't know.

Michelle Miller : What did you learn about this? Did that seem so strange for Ally?

Cindy Kostial - Big time, yes.



 

Brandon Theesfeld was notified by her on April 14th, with a picture of a non-conclusive home pregnancy testing and this message.

ALLY KOSTIAL TEXT "... It's almost like a faint blue line... but I don't know, I suppose I can wait to see if my period is ..."

The faint blue line is barely discernible. Theesfeld's response:

BRANDON THEESFELD TEXT : "Well, we'll see. But, if it's pregnant, we won't keep. We can get a tablet. "

Morgan Hull She was certainly worried. She was worried that she might be pregnant.

This text suggests that Ally was anxious and conflicted.

ALLY KOSTIAL TEXT - "I'm not saying anything bc idk... But even if I don't want you to get involved like I am really beautiful and sweet and I know that I will meet a man one day ...."
It was clear that Theesfeld didn't see fatherhood as a possibility in his immediate future.
BRANDON THEESFELD TEXT ".... It will not ruin my life ....". I am serious.
Morgan Hull. She tried to contact Brandon about this, and he either ignored her or said something like, "OK, I will come over tonight, and we can discuss this," and then he wouldn't show up.
Michelle Miller - So she spoke to you about it.
Elizabeth Brock - She came right away.
After Brandon Theesfeld was informed about the pregnancy test, investigators found out that he had been searching online for "mother wants child father doesn't" information.
Tony Farese - Yes, he did propose an abortion. There was some talk at first about it. Although he regrets it, he acknowledges the fact that it did happen and that it's documented in the text messages.
Michelle Miller : In your mind, if she were pregnant, she would have the baby.
Maddy Norris : She would have given the world to it, honest.
Ally would text Theesfeld every day, regardless of the uncertain test results. Kris Mohandie, a forensic psychologist, said that many of her messages were long and revealing. He was not involved in this case. He was asked by "48 Hours" to review some text messages.
Dr. Kris Mohandie: All these long, one-sided conversations, initiated by Ally with very little return from Brandon,... make this an extremely lopsided investment in this relationship.
The exchange will begin Monday, April 15, 2019, 12:57 AM. Ally will be writing:
ALLY KOSTIALTEXT: This weekend, I lived it up and was drunk 24 hours a day. That was so that my body would decide HAHHA not today em>
She then texts at 2:37 a.m.
ALLY KOSTIAL TXT: " It was something I thought about. If you want to speak to me in person, that would be ..."
Theesfeld replies almost nine hours later
BRANDON THEESFELD TEXT : "I can speak tomorrow. Today is busy for me. I will still make the decision about the pill. "
Dr. Kris Mohandie : There are many layers to me.
Michelle Miller - Do you feel that, based upon what you've seen... that he wants to keep her off the sidelines?
Dr. Kris Mohandie. It seems that he doesn't want to keep her off the sidelines... from what I have seen in these communications. He communicates just enough to influence her to end the pregnancy, if she is indeed pregnant. That seems to be his only investment in these communications.
Mohandie believes that Ally was trying to get Brandon Theesfeld’s attention by sending him texts about her drinking.
Michelle Miller [reading text to Kris Mohandie] "In the last 48 hours, I have literally drunk a full bottle tequila and two bottles of champagne. Seven beers. A glass of wine ..." It's hard to imagine someone my size being able consuming that much alcohol.
Kris Mohandie : This is a lot to drink for someone her size and many others, if any. My concern would be alcohol poisoning, or overdosing on alcohol. This is why I... I ask her how much she drinks. Or, it's exaggerated to say, "Hey, Brandon," to say, "I'm self destructive." Help me. You've gotta help me. I'm desperate. "......
Michelle Miller - Do you believe Brandon believed that she was pregnant with her child?
Tony Farese I knew that Ali claimed she was pregnant. The question is, why would she claim she was pregnant when she wasn't? My conclusion is that she desired a serious relationship to Brandon. This could have even led to marriage.
The text messages created a digital map that outlined a complex relationship. Investigators also had clues as to where Theesfeld was going one week before Ally's passing.
Theesfeld planned to take a trip home to Fort Worth on Friday, July 12. Ally sent him a picture of two more unambiguous home pregnancy tests that day. He posted a disturbing picture on social media less than 48 hours later at 4:16 p.m.
Ben Creekmore - He uses Snapchat to say something, and includes a photo of his.40 caliber gun.
There's even a chilling caption: "finally bringing my baby back to Oxford."

A DISTURBING DIGITAL FOOTPRINT

Brandon Theesfeld had left a digital footprint by the time he returned from Texas to Mississippi. Prosecutors say that it contained a disturbing web search history.
Ben Creekmore - He did some computer searches to find out how to hide crimes, plan preparations, and how to lure people.
Ben Creekmore, Mickey Mallette by Ted Bundy.
Morgan, Ally's friend, found it to be an eerie reminder.
Morgan Hull A few months prior to this, Ally and me watched the Ted Bundy movie and then we just sat down in her bed and ate popcorn and snacked. We were all like "this is so wrong!" ... Then, months later, it happens to Ally.
Michelle Miller - What explanation can you give for his actions in these searches?
Tony Farese - He certainly has some search history that could be troubling. It all depends on how you look at them when you first start looking at someone’s search history. If you’re watching TV, you’ve got many new shows that feature Ted bundy.
Tony Farese, attorney for Ally, says that the search history does not prove that Theesfeld planned to shoot Ally. He claims there is an innocent explanation as to why his client brought the pistol back from Mississippi.
Tony Farese : This is not unusual in our area of the country -- in Mississippi and Texas people -- people shoot. We have shooting ranges in Oxford, so we don't believe it was brought back to kill Ally.
Prosecutors Theesfeld knew that Theesfeld's trip was part of a meticulously planned plan.
Ben Creekmore : It would be obvious to us, when we put it together, what his purpose in bringing back the gun.
He didn't know how to use a gun.
Investigator Jarrett Bundren - If you look at all his Google searches, you'll see that he doesn't know how to use a gun. He was searching "hollow point ammunition" and "what button does what on Glock pistols."
Ally sent Theesfeld a photograph of her stomach on Thursday, July 18, just before 2 a.m.

 

The next day, Friday July 19, - the day prior to her death - Theesfeld texts Ally
BRANDON THEESFELD TEXT - "are you gonna come home today because i could see"
Two hours later, Ally sends him another photo along with this message.
ALLY KOSTIAL TXT: " It's not like I'm that small anymore, and I can pretend that I'm fat rn... but it's getting harder"
After reading a few more texts by Ally, Theesfeld wrote:
BRANDON THEESFELD TEXT : "Just let us know when you're back from going out. Is your house private rn?"
Ben Creekmore : It is a... shocking irony that... text messages between him and her...were asking...is this a good environment? Are your friends going to attend? You could infer that she thinks he wants to discuss the pregnancy issue and work with her on the relationship. He thinks he doesn't want witnesses to help him get her into the car.



 

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