SuperTalk Mississippi

At Her Funeral, A Community’s Joy of Jessica and the Inescapable Unanswered Questions

BATESVILLE, Miss. – A shocked and grieving community packed a Batesville funeral home chapel Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of Jessica Chambers, the 19-year-old burned alive a week ago.

“Our hearts are hurting, our spirits are burdened,” the Rev. Larry Kilgore told hundreds of mourners still wondering why someone would pour lighter fluid down the young woman’s mouth and nose and set her on fire.

Kilgore said Chambers talked with him before her death about some personal problems. “She fought some battles, some very tough battles,” he said.  But added that Chambers was committed to improving her life, and had a relationship with Christ.

After the funeral, hundreds flocked to Batesville’s courthouse square for a candlelight vigil in honor of Chambers.  Most all of them waited patiently in line to inscribe final good-byes on banners with Chamber’s picture in the center with the words, “Love You Jessica” underneath.  The group sang Amazing Grace and released colorful balloons as the vigil ended.  “Jessica would have loved this.  Never would she have imagined this many people would be here,” her mother said.

As friends and even strangers try to comfort Chambers’ family, police continue looking for the person responsible.  They are using video surveillance and Chambers’ cell phone records to try to reconstruct the final hours of her life.  The final results of an autopsy are also pending, but could be released as early as next week.

Anyone with information regarding Chambers’ death is asked to call crime stoppers.  A reward of up to $11,000 is available for tips leading to an arrest.

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