She Went 'Missing' in 2004. Now She's a Crime Suspect

Kimberly Lee Kessler seen ditching actual missing woman's SUV: cops
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2018 9:55 AM CDT
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This undated mugshot shows Kimberly Lee Kessler.   (Nassau County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – A Florida woman who vanished before she could attend a Mother's Day birthday celebration with her three children is now believed dead, with a woman long missing from Pennsylvania eyed as her suspected killer. Last seen May 12 leaving a Fernandina Beach salon where she worked as a hairstylist, 34-year-old Joleen Cummings was to meet with her ex-husband to pick up her children on Mother's Day. When she didn't appear, police tried to question the last person to see Cummings, a woman who'd worked at the salon for about a month, but found she'd provided a fake name and address, reports the Florida Times-Union. Now identified as Kimberly Lee Kessler, listed as missing from Butler, Pa., in 2004, she was seen on surveillance video leaving Cummings' SUV in a parking lot around 1am on May 13, police say.

Eventually found living in her car, Kessler is charged with car theft and possession of a counterfeit passport, but she is also a suspect in Cummings' disappearance, according to police. "We have obtained evidence that we are not releasing at this time which leads us to believe that Joleen is not alive," Sheriff Bill Leeper said at a press conference Tuesday. He said the evidence is not Cummings' body, which "could be anywhere." News4Jax reports Cummings' ex-boyfriend, Jason Gee, remains a person of interest in the case. Five days before she vanished, a neighbor called police about a disturbance at Cummings' home. When deputies arrived, Cummings said Gee had refused to leave. He was arrested on a probation violation on May 15 after he was found in a Hilliard home hiding under boxes, reports CBS News.

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