A 22-year-old man has been charged with the murder of an Ole Miss college student from St. Louis.
Brandon A. Theesfeld was formally charged in the shooting death of Lindbergh High graduate Ally Kostial, 21, at hearing Tuesday morning before before Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth.
Like Kostial, her accused killer also was a student in the School of Business Administration at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. He has been suspended from the university, according to officials there.
A deputy from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department on routine 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.
Kostial had been shot eight times, WLBT reported.
Police have said only that it was “apparent that foul play was involved.”
The sheriff issued a press release Tuesday confirming that Kostial’s suspected killer was booked into the Lafayette County Jail at about 4 p.m. Monday.
Theesfeld’s father, Daniel Theesfeld, issued a statement to WMC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee, saying his son is innocent.
“I know my son is innocent,” Theesfeld wrote. “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.”
The elder Theesfeld is a doctor who manages a pain clinic in Texas, according to his Facebook page.
Howorth, the Lafayette County Sheriff’s office and Theesfeld’s attorney, Swayze Alford, did not return phone calls on Tuesday seeking comment.
Theesfeld’s Facebook profile states he started studying at Ole Miss in February 2016 and that he is from Fort Worth, Texas.
WLBT said Kostial was last seen stopping at the door of a bar Friday night but didn’t go in. She turned and walked out of the camera’s view; authorities close to the case say she went home around midnight, but at some point she left the house again. Her roommates didn’t hear her leave, WLBT reported.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 662-234-6421 or CrimeStoppers at 662-234-8477.
Ally’s father, Keith Kostial, posted on Facebook that Sunset Hills police visited him Saturday afternoon to break the news. He said Ally Kostial was the victim of a homicide and, “as of now, it is believed the crime happened in Lafayette County, MS.”
Ally Kostial had been attending summer school and teaching fitness classes at the university, her father said.
Along with teaching fitness classes, Ally Kostial was a part of her school’s golf club and was active in sports such as cheerleading and track most of her life, according to one of her best friends, 21-year-old Casey Hendrickson.
Hendrickson, an incoming senior at the University of Missouri, grew up with Ally Kostial in their Lindbergh neighborhood and described her as a ray of sunshine. The two were planning to run in a marathon together.
“She was the happiest and most positive person in the world,” Hendrickson said. “The light that she brought into this world was amazing.”
Kostial’s family will release information about funeral arrangements at a later time, Hendrickson said.
Beth Johnston, a spokeswoman with the Lindbergh School District, confirmed that Ally graduated from Lindbergh High School in 2016.
At the University of Mississippi, interim chancellor Larry Sparks said, in part: “We are truly saddened by the death of Alexandria Kostial. Ally was a valued member of our campus community.”
The university said she was majoring in marketing.
Erin Heffernan and the Associated Press contributed to this report.