Friends and supporters of Alexandria "Ally" Kostial, who was found shot dead in a remote area near the University of Mississippi on Saturday, are paying tribute to the 21-year-old student with the #JusticeForAlly hashtag, helping bring awareness to violence against women. They are also advocating that the suspect, a white male from a privileged background, gets the justice they believe he deserves.
Brandon Theesfeld, 22, was arrested in Memphis on Monday afternoon and charged with Kostial’s murder. He is being held at the Lafayette County Detention Center. New details about Kostial and Theesfeld’s relationship along with photos of the two together have emerged, with several members of her friends and family saying that they had dated on-and-off in the past.
Several friends said that Theesfeld had been abusive to Kostial. “I truly believe that he manipulated her emotionally to have her believe that he loved her the same way she did, and I think he had her on the hook until the very last second,” Rex Ravita, a student journalist at Ole Miss who was one of Theesfeld’s freshman year dormmates, told KMOV-TV. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Ravita said that Theesfeld was known around campus as a "misogynist" and that he led Kostial on. “He led her on A LOT, enough to where it could be considered emotional abuse,” Ravita said. “But he definitely had a violent streak.”
Another friend of Kostial’s, who preferred to stay anonymous, said Kostial would confide in her friends about how Theesfeld treated her. “Ally would talk about how crazy aggressive he was,” said the friend. “I don’t know how many times she called me about him. About how he was treating her and about how he acted when they were together. We all told her to end it with him, but she always said she saw the good in him.”
Another one of Kostial’s friends posted to Twitter about their relationship, after news of Theesfeld’s arrest broke. The friend wrote: “He harassed her for years, took advantage of her for years, I spent countless nights holding Ally close drying her tears about this monster for years. You deserve hell you disgusting excuse for a human.”
Mary Ellen Manor, who said she went on two dates with Theesfeld after meeting him on Tinder, described him as "odd, very sketchy, like shady," and creepily persistent to WLBT 3. “Honestly, I almost fell down my stairs in my house," she said. "It freaked me out. I was like, ‘What if that could have been me?’ If I was still hanging out with him, what could have happened to me or like… it just freaked me out. I’m relieved that I’m okay, but I can’t believe I hung out with a dude who could be charged with such a thing, and it just made me very wary.”
The case highlights the epidemic of intimate-partner murders, which have been on the rise, in the U.S. According to recent research by Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, intimate partner homicides increased each year between 2014 and 2017. He also found that since 2010, gun-related murders of intimate partners have increased by 26%. Victims are overwhelmingly female; nearly half of all women who are murdered are killed by their partners, compared to 5% of male victims. On the same weekend Kostial was murdered, at least four other women were killed in Mississippi, one of them, Shayna Catherine Cline, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend.
The murder case also calls up questions of privilege. Theesfeld, who is from Fort Worth, TX, attended a private boarding school and was said to be boastful about his family money. Ravita told KMOV-TV that people thought Theesfeld was “arrogant.” He added, “I’m not going to sugar coat it, he was pretty much a daddy’s boy type, constantly had to reference his father’s money, how his dad could get him out of anything, just that attitude all the time.”
Those tweeting with #JusticeForAlly asked news outlets to show Theesfeld’s mug shot instead of photos of him in a bow tie or polo shirt, in order to not show preferential treatment.
Since certain news outlets want to post pictures of this mf’er in bow ties, here’s his mugshot. I hope jail is worse than the darkest of hells for this piece of shit #JusticeforAlly pic.twitter.com/GguQoyaQdp
— Left Field Mask (@LeftFieldMask) July 24, 2019
Police said Theesfeld, who was suspended by the university after his arrest, had minor scrapes with the law in the past, including charges of public drunkenness and possessing a fake ID from 2017. Before a Twitter account appearing to belong to him was suspended, Theesfeld retweeted Trump news, Ben Shapiro memes, violent and misogynist "jokes," and tweeted jokes about being an alcoholic.
Brandon Theesfeld (@BTheesfeld) who murdered Ally Kostial (@allykostial ) by shooting her 8 times ‘liked’ this tweet only days before the murder.
WHAT a psychopath.
Be careful out there ladies!
This sickens me 😣🤢 @xnmol #JusticeForAlly #BrandonTheesfeld pic.twitter.com/VLDqBcgr54
— 𝔪𝔞𝔯𝔦𝔞 (@yournovelpetals) July 24, 2019
Kostial’s friends and family remember her as a well-liked, social, and active student. She was attending summer school and teaching fitness classes at Ole Miss, was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, and had cofounded the school’s golf club.
“When I was around her, I just felt like my spirit being lifted,” Kostial’s childhood friend, Margaret Illig, told KTVI St. Louis.
“The thing about Ally was that she was so kind that I could see herself being kind to even the most evil of person. And not really seeing them for who they are,” Kostial’s former roommate Lauren Riddick told WMC 5. “I think that’s how she could’ve gotten wrapped back up into the same situation over and over.”
Kostial’s family has started a GoFundMe for her funeral expenses.
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Source: Refinery29 – Tiffany Diane Tso