SuperTalk Mississippi

Continuing Coverage: D-A says Burned Alive Killer will be Trapped Through Tried and True Police Methods

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — Panola County investigators say they are very confident they will find the person who covered 19-year-old Jessica Chambers with a flammable liquid and set her on fire, burning her alive on a rural road December 6.

Investigators confirm they are looking into several motives including a hate crime and possible gang related activity.  “Nothing is off the table at this point,” said Panola County District Attorney John Champion.  “There is no evidence to suggest it’s a hate crime or gang related; but who is to say that won’t change in the next five minutes.”

Just days after the death of Chambers, rumors began to surface on social media that Chambers’ ex-boyfriend had been abusive and may have played a role. Other blogs pinned possible responsibility on the clerk at the gas station where Chambers stopped the night of her death. But both men have been ruled out as suspects and cleared.  “Rumors run rampant and sometimes people don’t have the faintest idea what they are saying,” Champion explained.

Some other social media theorists pointed the finger of blame at a local gang called the “Black Squad.”  Champion said gang activity is present in Panola County.  “It is not something we are ignoring.  It is certainly an angle we are looking into.”

Chambers’ father had said his daughter was apparently hit over the head, before lighter fluid was poured down her mouth and nose and she was set on fire. Her autopsy is complete, but Champion said the results, along with information obtained through a search of Chambers’ cell phone records would not be made public.  “It’s for obvious reason.  When we get a suspect, they are entitled to a fair trial and putting all this out there ahead of time doesn’t serve that purpose.”

Finding that suspect may not be swift. “It’s a slow methodical process,” Champion said in describing the investigation.  But he did confirm that they are aware of what happened to Chambers during the final hours of her life. “But we are not going to comment.”

As part of the investigation, Champion said various media services will continue to be monitored for clues.  But to date,  he says  he is not aware of any case in the area that has been resolved through tips from people using social media.

A reward for information leading to an arrest in the death of Chambers is available.  If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-729-2169.

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