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Attorney: 56-day hunger strike puts Kimberly Kessler’s life in danger

Counsel representing Kessler files emergency renewed suggestion of mental incompetence to proceed

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Months after a judge ruled she was competent to stand trial, the woman charged with murdering her coworker at a Nassau County hair salon in 2018 is “in need of hospitalization for her mental illness,” according to a court document.

Kimberly Kessler is charged with first-degree murder in the the death of Joleen Cummings, a 34-year-old mother of three, at Tangles Hair Salon. Cummings has been missing since May 2018, and although her body has not been found, investigators said they found several notable items at a Georgia landfill.

Kessler is believed to be the last person to see Cummings alive.

Joleen Cummings
Joleen Cummings

The court document dated Wednesday, filed by counsel representing Kessler, is an emergency renewed suggestion of mental incompetence to proceed. The document states that Kessler, who has been in the Nassau County Jail, has refused to eat for 56 days, and that she had apparently been Baker Acted.

The document states that Kessler was apparently prescribed medication during her hospitalization, but that when she returned to jail, she refused to take the medication. Her attorney notes that they are attempting to confirm this information by medical records.

On Tuesday, the document states, Kessler was taken back to the emergency room because her “physical and mental health had deteriorated to a crisis point.”

Counsel argues that Kessler’s health has “deteriorated to the point that she is in danger of losing her life.” The document says that she is in need of hospitalization for mental illness.

Following Cummings’ disappearance, her SUV was found parked outside a Home Depot. Kessler was arrested May 16 after investigators said they found footage showing her getting out of the vehicle.

Since then, the state has released reams of evidence in the case through the discovery process that suggest a struggle occurred at the salon and that steps were taken to dispose of that evidence.

The case has attracted national attention in part because authorities said Kessler, who went by Jennifer Sybert, has used 17 aliases over the years.


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