As the sun set Thursday evening, nearly 100 people gathered in the parking lot at Lindbergh High School around a flagpole embellished with candles in remembrance of 21-year-old Ally Kostial.
Kostial was a 2016 graduate of Lindbergh High and an incoming senior at the University of Mississippi whose body was found Saturday morning about 30 miles from the campus. A preliminary autopsy report revealed that she died from “multiple gunshot wounds,” according to the Oxford Eagle, a newspaper that serves the Ole Miss and Oxford, Mississippi, area.
But Thursday night, as the crowd passed around a microphone and described Kostial as a “beautiful soul” and someone with a positive attitude, the focus was on Kostial’s life.
“She was always smiling, laughing and happy,” said Casey Hendrickson, 22, one of Kostial’s best friends.
“Never once did I see her angry. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. Even if you didn’t know her, it’s very clear she impacted so many lives, and that’s what we need to focus on.”
Others in the crowd echoed Hendrickson’s sentiments, describing Kostial in her many roles as a cheerleader, swimmer, tennis player, golfer and friend.
“I may have been Ally’s teacher, but clearly listening to all of you tonight, she taught a lot of you,” said Maureen Reed, Kostial’s former high school Spanish teacher.
A deputy from the Lafayette County (Mississippi) Sheriff’s Department on patrol found Kostial’s body on Saturday morning at Buford’s Ridge, a remote area with a fishing camp where many visitors ride ATVs when the water is low, according to WLBT-TV, the NBC affiliate serving Jackson, Mississippi.
Brandon A. Theesfeld, 22, also a student at Ole Miss, was charged with killing Kostial and booked at the local jail Monday, according to the county sheriff.
Theesfeld had a court hearing Tuesday and has been suspended from school, according to university officials.
The suspect’s Facebook profile states he started studying at Ole Miss in February 2016 and that he is from Fort Worth, Texas.
Kostial’s father, Keith Kostial, a former Sunset Hills alderman, posted arrangements for Ally Kostial’s funeral and visitation via Facebook.
On Friday, visitation will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood.
The funeral will be Saturday at the same church, 505 South Kirkwood Road.
Mississippi officials have not released any information about a motive for the killing.