Florida Mom Missing Since Mother's Day Is Presumed Dead — and a Suspect Is Arrested in the Case
Florida police have arrested a woman in connection with the disappearance of a mom-of-three who didn’t pick up her children on Mother’s Day and hasn’t been seen since.
At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said investigators arrested 50-year-old Kimberly Kessler — who authorities allege was the last person to see 34-year-old Joleen Jensen Cummings alive, according to local TV station WJXT.
Kessler, a co-worker at Tangles Hair Salon with Cummings, is charged with grand theft auto, First Coast News reports. She is also a suspect in Cummings’ disappearance, authorities said Tuesday.
She is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond.
Leeper said investigators have evidence to suggest that Cummings is dead but would not release it at this time.
Cummings was last seen leaving her job at Tangles in Fernandina Beach at 5 p.m. on May 12. She was supposed to meet up with her ex-husband in Hilliard on Mother’s Day to pick up her kids but she never showed up. Her mother, Anne Johnson, reported her missing on May 14.
Her beige 2006 Ford Expedition was discovered May 15 in the parking lot of a Home Depot near the salon in Yulee.
That same day, police went to the salon to speak with Kessler, but she didn’t show up to work from that point forward — and the address she had given to her boss was fake, police allege.
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Later, investigators discovered surveillance video from 1:17 a.m. on May 13 that showed Kessler, who worked at the salon that day and had been employed there for about one month, parking Cummings’ SUV.
Police found Kessler, who went by the alias Jennifer Sybert, at a truck stop on May 16, First Coast News reports.
Police said Kessler is from Pennsylvania and had been using a fake social security number.
On Sunday, Cummings’ mother Anne Johnson posted an emotional message to Facebook about her missing daughter. “When parents shed tears about their children, I believe with all my heart that God hears those prayers of lament, and all of us can agree that when our kids hurt and go through difficulties that we as a parent shed tears,”
“Today is the 7th day we are without my daughter,” she continued. “Today is 7 days her children are without their mother. Today is 7 days that her brother and sister are without their sister. Today is 7 days that her close friends are without their friend. Let’s bring Joleen home!”
It was not immediately clear if Kessler has retained an attorney.