Fort Worth Man Arrested, Charged With Murder in Shooting Death of Ole Miss Student

Suspect in student's death attended high school in Fort Worth, NBC 5 has learned

A college student from Fort Worth has been arrested in Mississippi and charged with murder in connection with the death of a 21-year-old female Ole Miss student.

Lafayette County Sheriff's Office Maj. Alan Wilburn said 22-year-old Brandon Austin Theesfeld is charged with murder in the death of Alexandria "Ally" Madison Kostial, a student from St. Louis whose body was found over the weekend.

Kostial, officials said, was the victim of foul play. Investigators said she had been shot eight times and her body was found about 20 miles from campus in the Harmontown community near Sardis Lake, a recreation area popular with Ole Miss students.

Kostial was last seen in city surveillance video stopping at the door of a bar Friday night, NBC affiliate WMC reports. Later, she and Theesfeld were seen on surveillance video not far from where her body was found hours later.

Theesfeld, of Fort Worth, was booked into the Lafayette County Jail Monday afternoon. He appeared before a judge and was arraigned Tuesday; he is currently being held without bond and bail will be set at a later time.

NBC 5 received a statement from Tony Farese, Attorney for Brandon Theesfeld Wednesday night: "Steve Farese, Sr. and I were retained today as co-counsel with Swayze Alford of Oxford, Ms., to defend Brandon Theesfeld on the charge of murder filed against him. We are in the process of investigating the events surrounding the allegations against our client. It is far too early to make further comments on this matter."

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Investigators have not revealed a motive in the slaying and wouldn't say much else about the ongoing investigation.

"We are not releasing details of the investigation as this is an ongoing investigation," Wilburn said. "We will release when it is appropriate and not before."

An arrest affidavit released Tuesday afternoon didn't reveal much else about the case, though in it Wilburn did write that Theesfeld, "feloniously and willfully and unlawfully with deliberate design to effect the death of Alexandria Madison Kostial, kill Alexandria Madison Kostial."

Theesfeld's attorney has been identified as Swayze Alford, of Oxford, Mississippi. NBC News reached out to Alford's office but have not yet received a response.

Theesfeld, NBC 5 has learned, attended Fort Worth Country Day School from 2012 to 2014, but after his sophomore year did not return for "academic reasons," according to the private, college prep school. From there, Theesfeld attended and graduated from the San Marcos Academy in San Marcos in 2016.

Daniel Theesfield, father of Brandon Theesfeld, is a doctor in Fort Worth and gave a statement to NBC affiliate WMC: "I know my son is innocent. 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 University of Mississippi, meanwhile, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Theesfeld was a student in the School of Business Administration and has been suspended and said they would support Kostial's family in "every way we can."

I want to extend our deepest sympathies once again to Ally’s family, friends and all others who knew her or interacted with her on campus. Ally was an engaged member of our community with friends across our campus and a promising future. The university will support the Kostial family in every way we can during this traumatic time. These events remind us of the importance of leaning on each other in the wake of an event that we cannot understand. Ally’s death shocks the conscience and causes much pain and sorrow, but it does not define our campus community. We must draw strength from what brings us together as a community, even as we grieve this unspeakable loss. -- Larry D. Sparks, interim chancellor

The victim's father, Keith Kostial, initially confirmed the news of his daughter's death on Facebook, where he posted: "Saturday afternoon we were visited by police, who communicated to us that our beautiful dear Alexandria (Ally) Kostial was the victim of a homicide."

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The university said Kostial was working toward a bachelor's degree in marketing. Kostial's father said on Facebook that his daughter had been attending summer school and teaching fitness classes at the university. He said she graduated from Lindbergh High School in 2016.

The discovery stunned both Kostial's fellow students and those living nearby, the TODAY show reported. On social media, friends are posting emotional tributes.

"It's just hard for me, because all I can think about when I see her face is what she went through, what she was thinking, what she was saying," said Anna Pasco, a friend of Kostial. "It's really, really hard."

"She was the brightest light and always had a smile on her face," one wrote. "She truly was a ray of sunshine."

"Praying justice is served soon and that god wraps his arms around the Kostial family," posted another.

Check back for the latest updates on this story.

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