Kimberly Kessler: Woman convicted of killing Nassau mom sentenced to life in prison without parole

YULEE, Fla. — The woman convicted of killing Nassau County mom Joleen Cummings was sentenced Thursday for her crimes.

On Thursday, Kimberly Kessler was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder, of which a jury found Kessler guilty of in December.

[RELATED: Kimberly Kessler found guilty of first-degree murder in Nassau County mom Joleen Cummings’ death]

“Life without parole would be absolutely appropriate,” Judge James Daniels said at the sentencing hearing Thursday.

Kessler was given the opportunity to sit in on the sentencing hearing on Thursday, but she had what has become a routine outburst in the court room, shouting “Jordan Beard is Joleen Cummings’ cousin!” She was escorted out in less than 30 seconds.

Kessler was also sentenced to five years for grand theft and will serve that sentence concurrently with her life sentence.

Cummings was reported missing on Mother’s Day in 2018. She and Kessler worked together at Tangles Hair Salon in Fernandina Beach.

Investigators believe Kessler killed Cummings at the salon. Her body has never been found.

Cummings’ family said it feels like justice has been served; her mother Anne Johnson holds onto hope that one day, they may find out where Cummings is.

“We are still waiting for Joleen to walk through that door, and then we look at the door, and Joleen’s never coming home,” Johnson said in court.

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said his agency will continue looking for Cummings’ body.

“Maybe Kessler will talk one day, hopefully she will, but we’ll keep looking. If we get evidence where she may be, we’ll try to find her,” Leeper said.

Leeper said Kessler will be taken to state prison on Friday and his department is ready for her departure.

“I’ve been assured she’ll be on the first bus tomorrow out of town and when she leaves, we’re going to have cake and ice cream,” Leeper said. “We’re going to celebrate. We’re going to celebrate her home-going because her new home for the rest of her life until she takes her last breath is going to be Florida State Prison.”

Kessler’s defense attorney filed a motion for a new trial shortly after the verdict was returned in December on the grounds that Kessler is mentally incompetent.

A motion for a new trial was also filed by Kessler’s defense Thursday and that motion was denied.

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