JACKSON, Miss. –Mississippi Governor Phil Byrant says the person or persons that killed Jessica Chambers will be found and brought to justice.
“My instructions to (Mississippi Department of Public Safety) Commissioner Albert Santa Cruze is to spare no effort. Whatever we need to do, utilize whatever expertise, equipment, manpower, personnel, we are going to find the person who committed this heinous crime; and we are going to hold them accountable,” Bryant said in an interview with News Mississippi.
Chambers, 19, was found burning alive just over a month ago in Panola County. Her father said she had apparently been hit over the head and a flammable substance was poured down her mouth and nose before she was set on fire. She died a day later at a Memphis hospital.
“I’m a former law enforcement officer and have investigated homicides as a sheriff deputy; and it’s just a chilling effect when you hear how one human being can inflict such a horrible crime on another,” said Bryant.
Jessica’s terrifying death has drawn national attention and as weeks have gone by, with no one in custody, an online change.org petition has been created calling on Bryant to use his power to help solve the murder. But the Governor told News Mississippi he has been involved in the case since day one. “I have personally been kept aware of the progress that’s being made and continue to encourage, where I can, that we stay on the case until it is solved and justice is done for Jessica.”
Bryant said local, state and federal investigators are working tirelessly to find Jessica’s killer(s). “Believe me, there is no one who would like to solve this crime more than the local law enforcement agencies and the professional investigators who are working for the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.”
However, some on social media disagree. And Kathy Flynn, who started the Justice for Jessica petition on change.org, wrote that she was petitioning the Governor for help because the investigation seems botched and the murder was not a priority. Bryant disagreed. “Anybody can be a critic; but I can assure you that from (Panola County District Attorney) John Champion to the sheriff department, the federal authorities involved and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, everyone is working hard.”
He added that many on social media don’t realize the scale of what’s being done to find Jessica’s killer(s). Bryant said it would be an unimaginable conspiracy for federal, state and local investigators to decide, for some reason, not to exhaust all their efforts to solve the case. “Law enforcement officers are designed by nature to solve crimes. That’s what they do every day. They put their lives on the line to make sure they accomplish that task. So I have every confidence in the world that they (Panola County authorities and other investigators) are doing their job.”
Bryant said the Justice for Jessica petition was somewhat confusing, but as a former arson investigator “I am well aware of what this type of accelerant can do when it’s involved in this type of act. I want justice done for Jessica.”