Burning victim's last words could lead detectives to her killer
PANOLA CO, MS (WMC) - Family members of a teenager burned alive on Saturday night are desperate for answers in the heinous Mississippi murder.
Jessica Chambers, 19, was found burning near her car that was also engulfed in flames. She was flown to a hospital in Memphis but later died. Early autopsy results reveal that Jessica died from severe burns that covered 98 percent of her body.
"They have ripped everything I have," added Lisa Chambers, Jessica's mother. "She left to go clean out her car and was going to get her something to eat."
The 19-year-old never made it home.
Her father, Ben Chambers, said investigators told him his daughter was set on fire.
"When the fire department got there, she was walking down the road on fire," he said. "Only part of her body that wasn't burned was the bottom of her feet."
He continued as he held back tears, "They squirted lighter fluid down her throat and in her nose, and apparently they knocked her out. She had a big gash on top of her head."
In her last breaths, she may have sent investigators down her killer's trail.
"She told them, she told them, told him who done it," Chambers said.
Investigators won't say what Jessica said or release the chilling details about how she died.
"I love her you know, I'm so sorry Daddy wasn't there for her," her dad said. "I'd trade places with her in a minute if I could."
Ben Chambers worked as an employee for Panola County Sheriff's Office. He has faith that his friends and co-workers will get to the bottom of the crime.
Her parents are not the only people left wondering who could do something so violent.
Several people in town are taking to Facebook asking for #justiceforjessica. Friends like Alicia Faulkner are taking to social media to demand answers, gaining more than 7,000 "likes" in less than a day.
"For her, if she was here to know all these people care about her," said Faulkner. "We just want the story out there."
Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale knows someone in the community knows something and is pleading for help. Detectives are working to learn who the 19-year-old may have been with before her murder.
"We're trying to go through the information that we have, certainly interviewing all the potential witnesses we can and going through and using the phone records we can," Hale said.
"The sheriff called me this morning he told me, he said, 'I'm working hard,'" Chambers said. "They took something from me I can't ever get back. Not ever, you know? It's a part of me gone forever."
Jessica's mother hopes for a tip that could lead to her daughter's killer or killers. "Even if they don't think it's information, if it's just something they heard, to please call the sheriff's department," Lisa Chambers said.
Several people are being questioned by detectives, but no arrests have been made. The teen's car, and any potential clues inside, are charred black. Investigators did find a cell phone at the scene.
"We do have a phone that we believe is hers and that is what we are attempting to gather the information from," said Hale. Detectives spent Monday going through the phone for clues.
Jessica Chambers' visitation is scheduled for Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Wells Funeral Home in Batesville, MS. She will be laid to rest at the chapel on Saturday at 2 p.m.
As Lisa Chambers prepares to bury her daughter, she has just one question for whomever is responsible.
"Why?" Chambers asked. "How would you like for it to be done to you, your daughter, your mother, your father, someone in your family?"
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