1 year later: Family, friends remember Joleen Cummings

Mother of 3 reported missing when she didn't pick up her kids last Mother's Day

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Loved ones came together Friday night to remember a Nassau County hairstylist and mother of three who disappeared last May.

Joleen Cummings, 34, was supposed to spend Mother’s Day with her children last year. She was reported missing after she didn’t pick up her children.

Sunday marks one year since her disappearance and her family still waits for answers. Family, friends and Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper gathered Friday night for a private celebration of life service in her memory.

“We’re doing a celebration now. This is supposed to be a happier time because justice will prevail. I know that justice will prevail," said Anne Johnson, Cummings' mother. "I believe that with all my heart. God's got a hand in this. Justice shall prevail.”

But Johnson fought back tears as she spoke about her daughter during the service in Fernandina Beach.

“I want her to be remembered for the three kids that she left behind, for the unconditional love that she gave me," she said.

The service included a raffle, with donations going toward her children, along with food and karaoke. 

Later in the evening, there was a circle of prayer and Cummings' three children released three doves in honor of their mother. As the three doves flew into the sky, Johnson knew her daughter's spirit will live on. 

While Cummings' body has not been found despite months of intensive searching, Kimberly Kessler, Cummings' co-worker at Tangles Hair Salon in Yulee, is charged with her murder.

As the case moves forward in court, Cummings' family is working to do the same. They just want her to be found.

"We continue to ask for prayers without ceasing for Joleen's remains to be found, so that we can put her to rest. We pray without ceasing for justice to be served," Johnson said. "Bereaved parents share an unspeakable bond. Our love never dies. For most parents, the thought of burying their child is their worst nightmare. But I am still waiting and praying to do just that. I prayed this torture would end so that we could lay Joleen to rest."

Johnson said she is extremely thankful for everyone who has been there for her family over the last year, including the investigators.

About the Authors: