One of the strangest unsolved mysteries in recent years involves the disappearance of Joleen Cummings. Cummings, 34, a native of Yulee, Florida, went missing on May 13, 2018. She was a mother of three children, last seen leaving her shift at Tangles Hair Salon. She was intended to meet her ex-husband the next day, which was Mother’s Day, as well as her birthday. She was to pick up her children during the meet-up.
She never showed up for that meeting. She was officially reported missing on May 14 by her mother. Those who knew her left touching memorials outside the hair salon she worked at. The county police mounted an exhaustive search, naming her coworker Jennifer Sybert as a potential suspect, as Sybert was the last person to see Cummings.
Sybert missed her next shift at the hair salon, after hearing on the phone from the salon owner that detectives were there to speak with her. She fled the area, apparently unwilling to speak with detectives at all.
Police discovered Joleen’s car at a nearby Home Depot lot, but found no evidence within. Security camera footage revealed that Joleen didn’t park the car there, but someone else entirely. The person was dressed in all-black, appearing to keep a low profile. Indeed, it appeared on-screen to be Jennifer Sybert.
During the investigation, Luminal was used to find blood traces all over the Salon, including on a bleach bottle and mop. Sybert was found three counties away, at a truck stop, living in her car. She was transported back to Nassau county, and had injuries on her face including scratches.
It turned out that Jennifer Sybert was a fake name used by Kimberly Kessler, a woman born in 1968 in Butler, Pennsylvania. She’d even been using a fake social security number. Strangely, by figuring out that Sybert was really Kimberly Kessler, police solved a missing person’s case filed in 2012, when Kessler’s mother reported her daughter missing. Even more strangely, the report indicates she was last seen in 2004.
Investigators were unable to determine why her mother waited eight years to report her missing. However, they discovered Kessler used no fewer than 24 fake aliases, living in more than 30 cities across the US. This, once again, begs the question: what was she running from?
The investigation came back to show that Joleen Cummings’ blood was in the salon, as well as Kimberly Kessler’s. Further, Cummings’ DNA was found on items of Kessler’s, including a sock and boot. A pair of scissors had traces of her blood, and a blue bin in her home had one of Cummings’ fingernails. This led investigators to believe that some violent event took place between the two women.
Joleen’s body has never been found, and Kimberly has never admitted to anything. Kessler was charged with murder, but found incompetent to stand trial after being examined by doctors. Psychiatrists felt Kessler was suffering from delusions and personality disorder, though one doctor only spoke to her for half an hour before Kessler herself ended the session.
Kessler has been moved to a psychiatric hospital. At the time of this writing, she is still being held, and the criminal case against her is ongoing.