Grand jury indicts Thomas Kessinger in murder of business partner

Diane Tanselle
Diane Tanselle
Sandra Schumacher
Sandra Schumacher

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville man has been indicted for the murder of his business partner.

In April 2010, 51-year-old Diane Tanselle disappeared. Early in the investigation, detectives questioned Thomas Kessinger, her business partner and friend. The pair had been planning to open a tanning salon off New LaGrange Road in Lyndon. When Louisville Metro Police went to talk to Kessinger at his Lyndon home regarding Tanselle's disappearance, officers say he led them on a chase which ended across the river. Police say they found bath towels, rubber gloves, large zip lock bags, a roll of duct tape, clothes, and a briefcase in his car.

Indiana court documents revealed detectives found Tanselle's phone in Kessinger's backyard and a large amount of blood inside his home. A week after she disappeared, officers found Tanselle's body three blocks from Kessinger's place inside a van in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

Sandra Schmacher, who is a stylist at the shopping plaza where Kessinger and Tanselle's business was supposed to open, said she has wondered how Tanselle died.

"Actually quite gruesome thinking about somebody finding her body in a vehicle it just ... It couldn't help make you sick to your stomach," Schmacher said.

For nearly a year, Kessinger sat behind bars in a southern Indiana jail charged with resisting law enforcement, possession of marijuana, and criminal recklessness. Police tell WAVE 3 they were able to link Kessinger to Tanselle's murder because of DNA evidence. Among other evidence, police say they have video of Kessinger going into a hardware store and buying duct tape and a tarp after Tanselle's disappearance.

"Yes, it has been hard to wait for the charge, but we have been so confident because the detectives have kept in contact with us so well. It wasn't a problem waiting. We knew eventually he'd be charged," said Jessica Tanselle, Diane's oldest daughter, during a telephone interview.

From what Jessica could tell, her mother and Kessinger appeared to have a good relationship.

"We still miss her a lot," Jessica said. "We go and visit her grave and we talk about her. We don't hold back on talking about her and how much we miss her."

On Feb. 10, a Jefferson County grand jury indicted Kessinger for Tanselle's murder. He has also been charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Kessinger is currently in the Clark County Jail awaiting sentencing for drug crimes. He will be extradited back to Louisville to face the murder charge. Kessinger is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 14.

Metro Police have not said how Tanselle died.

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