SuperTalk Mississippi

Burning Alive: After 14 Months, DA Charges Suspect in Jessica Chambers Death

PANOLA COUNTY, MISS– Found burning alive on the side of the road in Courtland, Jessica Chambers and her death were in the forefront of the minds of the nation. After 14 months of grueling investigation and little to go on, Quinton Tellis has been pointed as her killer. 


District Attorney John Champion says Tellis and Chambers were friends, introduced through mutual acquaintances, but he won’t elaborate on their relationship.

“They were both from Courtland, and new the same people. They were introduced that way,” says Champion, “but we won’t go further in that.”

Many rumors have surrounded this case since the moment Jessica was found burning alive on the side of the road December 6th, 2014; rumors that Champion was dismissive of during this morning’s press conference.

“We do not anticipate at this point any other charges brought against any other individuals,” says Champion, “We have never believed this was gang related, and we do not believe this was drug related.”

Another rumor lofting over this case was one detail that made this death so gruesome and therefore etched in the imaginations of this case’s followers:

“She did not have anything poured down her throat,” says Champion, “there was that rumor circulating, and other rumors we didn’t bother to address, but that did not happen.”

Quinton Tellis is from the Courtland area, and attended the same high school as Jessica Chambers. They are around 8 years apart in age, so they did not attend at the same time.

Tellis was initially interviewed very early on after Jessica’s death. Champion says there was not enough at that stage of the investigation to hold him or charge him for any crime.  Tellis is a three-time convicted felon, and is currently serving time in Monroe, Louisiana for drug charges and using the debit card of a Tawainese woman found dead in her room.

Ming-Chen Hsaio was found stabbed to death. Tellis is charged with using an access card to enter her room and had used her card, but has not been charged for her murder. Pending investigation, those charges could be upgraded.

Champion says it is hard to define a serial killer, and therefore wouldn’t speak directly as to whether or not Tellis was building into serial killer status.

“However if you consider killing more than one person serial, then one could fit that description,” says Champion.

Because of Tellis’ charges in which he is currently awaiting trial in Louisiana, it could take up to 6 weeks to even begin the process of moving him to Mississippi to stand trial for this crime.

“We have to get a Governor’s Warrant, which could take 4 to 6 weeks,” says Champion,”he has a trial date in May in Monroe, so I don’t anticipate he’ll be here before then. I can’t speak to the timeline.”

Tellis faces a capital murder charge in the death of Jessica Chambers. That charge can pack the death penalty, if the party chose to pursue it.

Jessica’s father Ben Chambers, an employee of the Panola County sheriff’s department spoke at the press conference about how his daughter may be finally at rest.

“I think she can be in peace now,” says Chambers, “I think we have the best sheriff’s department in the state, in the world, because they didn’t give up. Thank you for not giving up.”

News Mississippi will continue to follow this case as new details emerge.

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