Duval County

Woman accused of murdering Joleen Cummings appears in court with mask and Holy Bible

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — Kimberly Kessler walked into a Nassau County courtroom with a mask over her face and carrying what appeared to be a Bible Thursday.

Kessler is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nassau County mother Joleen Cummings.

Investigators believe Kessler was the last person who saw Cummings alive in May 2018, because she worked with her at Tangles Hair Salon in Yulee.

Cummings’ mother, Ann Johnson, said her daughter’s case has been on hold for too long.

Johnson said she has never experienced grief like this before, so whenever Kessler is in court, she makes sure she is there.

State psychologists found Kessler competent to move forward in this case.

A judge says the doctors who evaluated Kessler made the assessment after looking at several different key points:

  • Whether Kessler understands the charges against her
  • Whether she understands the nature of possible penalties
  • Whether she has the ability to challenge witnesses
  • Whether she can behave appropriately in court

Johnson is hoping for justice.

“I don’t believe there is such a thing as complete closure, not the way this case is,” Johnson said.

Although Cummings’ body has not been found, investigators said they found several notable items at a Georgia landfill.

Since then, the state has released evidence in the case that suggests a struggle occurred at the salon and steps were taken to get rid of evidence.

“I grieve Joleen so much. I still ask for continued prayers for my daughter’s remains to be found. That’s my personal possession. Her kids and my family, I ask for prayers for justice to be served,” said Johnson.

Kessler will appear before a judge for another competency hearing on February 25.