Fernandina Beach, FL – The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office celebrated the transfer of problem inmate Kimberly Kessler to the custody of the state prison system on Friday with cake and ice cream after dealing with her drama and trouble-making for years.
Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said he had promised the deputies and staff at Nassau County Jail and Detention Center an “Incarceration Relocation Celebration” when Kessler was finally removed from their custody, WBTV reported.
Sheriff Leeper said Kessler was a headache for the correctional staff every day of the past three-and-a-half years that she was in their custody, WTLV reported.
Kessler was convicted of the murder of 34-year-old Joleen Cummings in December of 2021, WJXT reported.
Cummings and Kessler were co-workers at a hair salon in Yulee.
Circuit Court Judge James Daniel sentenced Kessler to the mandatory life without parole on Jan. 27 for the 2018 murder of the hairdresser who was the mother of three small children, WJXT reported.
Cummings body has never been found, WTLV reported.
Jail officials told the court during her trial that Kessler would regularly strip naked in her cell and spread feces on the observation window.
Authorities said she regularly threw feces at correctional officers and staff and went on a two-month hunger strike while she was under their care, WJXT reported.
Kessler also tried to commit suicide more than once while in the custody of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.
“The costs borne by the taxpayers of Nassau County for her custody since her arrest have been staggering,” Sheriff Leeper said in a Facebook post to the department’s official page. “A conservative estimate cost for her suicide watch, medical costs, transportation and food amounted to over $215,000.”
After Kessler was sentenced, the sheriff told reporters his team was ready to celebrate as soon as the inmate had been transferred to Florida Women’s Reception Center in Marion County, WJXT reported.
“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,” Sheriff Leeper said.
“She has over the past few weeks attempted to take her life and was unsuccessful,” the sheriff continued. “But we wanted to keep her safe in our jail so we could get rid of her and put her in the state’s hands and let them deal with her now.”
He posted some pictures of the farewell party to the department’s Facebook page that showed smiling deputies and staff enjoying cake and ice cream after Kessler was transferred out of the jail.
Sheriff Leeper said they are all “glad they no longer have to deal with her,” WTLV reported.
The judge at Kessler’s trial also didn’t want to deal with her, as the defendant made daily outbursts in court and had to be removed from the courtroom on an almost daily basis.
Kessler’s mental health was an issue in the case from the very beginning of the investigation but she was ultimately found fit to stand trial, WTLV reported.
She refused to participate in her trial in a cooperative manner and accused a member of her defense team of being related to the victim, even screaming the accusations in open court on multiple occasions.
As a result, Kessler wasn’t present in court for even one day of her trial and had to watch proceedings from a separate room, WJXT reported.
She was wheeled in to her sentencing briefly but began screaming the same accusations at her attorneys and had to be taken out.