Ted Kissel was the kind of person who was there when you needed him, willing to give you the shirt off his back, his fiancee says.
That could explain why the Andover native, after moving to Tulsa recently, took in a roommate who needed a place to stay.
That arrangement turned tragic last week.
Kissel, 31, was beaten to death with a baseball bat around midnight Monday at his house in Tulsa. Tulsa police arrested the roommate, Joel Giefer, that night and booked him into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder.
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“It’s really hard to think of this happening to him,” said Rachel Bloom, who had been engaged to Kissel since July 2010. “He’s the last person on earth you ever would associate with murder. He never would’ve gotten involved with someone like him. I don’t understand people.”
Tulsa police told media in Tulsa that Kissel had advertised for a roommate on Craigslist and Giefer answered the ad. But Bloom said Giefer was a cousin of one of Kissel’s coworkers who had been kicked out by a girlfriend and needed a place to live.
Bloom, who never met Giefer, said Giefer wasn’t paying the rent, and Kissel wanted him to move out. On Sunday, when Kissel returned to Tulsa after spending the weekend with Bloom in Kansas, he told Giefer to find a new place, Bloom said.
Giefer wasn’t there Monday when Kissel got home from work, he told Bloom by phone. He planned to take a shower and call her back, she said. She didn’t hear from him again.
Tulsa police said Giefer returned to the residence and was dropped off by acquaintances shortly before Kissel was killed.
Giefer apparently texted a friend and said, “It’s done” or “I’ve done it,” said Tulsa police Officer Jillian Roberson. The friend called 911 and told police they should check on Kissel, Roberson said.
When officers arrived at the house, Giefer was short and evasive with them, Roberson said. As they began to question him more closely, one of the officers spotted a bloody bat in a hallway.
They found Kissel in a rear bedroom under a mattress, Roberson said. There were signs that Giefer had attempted to clean up before police arrived.
The last thing Bloom and Kissel did together was attend Saturday’s Kansas-Kansas State football game in Manhattan, Bloom said. She had attended Kansas State as a student, and he had visited her there many times, so he was a KSU fan, she said. He also attended Wichita State basketball games with friends, Bloom said.
But he wasn’t a huge sports fan, and preferred to go fishing and spend time on lakes, she said.
Kissel graduated from Andover High School in 2002, attended Wichita State, and eventually got a degree in welding from Wichita Area Technical College.
He had moved to Tulsa to pursue better job opportunities, Bloom said.
“He was happy being there,” Bloom said. “I just kind of let him do it because that was what he wanted.”
They were beginning to talk about getting married toward the end of next summer, said Bloom, who has a master’s degree from KSU and works at Via Christi Village.
Kissel was personable, had many friends and lived life to the fullest, she said. He lost his mother to an auto accident when he was young, and he knew from then on that every day could be his last, so he always lived like that, she said.
Kissel also loved photography, and his dogs, including a St. Bernard he had with him in Tulsa. Bloom said she got the dog out of the pound in Tulsa and brought him back to Andover this week.
“Our dogs were his life,” she said.
“He was amazing, and he was loved by so many, and he loved so many,” Bloom said. “It’s just impossible to think how any of us are going to go on now without such a great guy in our lives, always looking at the good side.
“People like that aren’t supposed to die early.”
Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A memorial scholarship fund has been started in Ted Kissel’s name through the KSU Foundation. Contributions may be sent to the Ted Wayne Kissel Memorial Fund, Kansas State University, 2323 Anderson Ave., Manhattan, KS 66502.