Evidence filed in Nassau mom's murder case includes witness statements

Kimberly Kessler charged with murder in the death of Joleen Cummings

By Frank Powers - Assignment manager, Corley Peel - Reporter

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - Evidence filed by prosecutors who are building a case against a woman charged with murdering a Nassau County mother includes statements from witnesses who spoke with the suspected killer days before the mom disappeared.

Kimberly Kessler was indicted on a murder charge in the death of her co-worker Joleen Cummings. The body of the mother of three has not been found.

According to a summary of the evidence, Kessler told a deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office that her real name could not be released because her ex-boyfriend is a stalker, and that she had been on the run for 25 years. Kessler told another witness she used to rob banks and had five aliases.

After Kessler's arrest, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper revealed she had lived in 33 cities in 14 states under 17 names since 1996.

The summary states that Kessler said she didn't know where Cummings went after she left work on May 12. When a detective asked Kessler about marks she had on her face, Kessler said she ran into a tree limb while biking. She told a store employee it was "a zit out of control."

The marks can be seen in Kessler's initial mug shot taken (above, left) at the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

There's a hint as to some tension between Kessler and Cummings, according to the evidence summary. Kessler told a detective Cummings told her to, "Go away, you are fake," to which Kessler replied, "What do you mean?"

The prosecution also submitted a report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on the forensic analysis of the cellphones belonging to Kessler and Cummings. Investigators said they have one of Cummings' fingernails, but the summary gave no clue as to where it was found.

Nine female St Johns County jail inmates were also interviewed by investigators, the summary shows, but there's no indication as to what they said.

Gene Nichols, a Jacksonville attorney not affiliated with the case, said the state is providing as much evidence as possible.

“It’s not a cut and dry prosecution so that’s why I’m not surprised to see such a long discovery list," Nichols said. "They want to make sure that they show the defense that they uncovered every stone before they started prosecuting.”‚Äč

The summary also showed a mop, plant, trash can and furniture listed as evidence from inside the Tangles Hair Salon, which was the last place Kessler saw Cummings alive, according to the investigators.

In the next several months, Nichols said the defense will begin looking at the state’s discovery and figure out whether or not the case should go to trial.

Kessler is held in the Duval County jail on no bond.

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