‘Jessica Chambers: An ID Murder Mystery’ is a two-hour special that examines a murder and its subsequent investigations that have left the rural town of Courtland in Mississippi with more questions than answers. It chronicles the death of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers, which made national headlines and featured on the front page of People Magazine. It highlights the life of the teenager, the brutal crime that took her life, and how she is still the life and soul of the community that is looking to give her some much-deserved justice.
How Did Jessica Chambers Die?
Jessica Lane Chambers was born on February 2, 1995, to Ben Allen Chambers, Sr. and Lisa Lynn Daugherty Chambers in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Anyone who knew Jessica always commented on her loving nature and caring personality, so when the news came out that someone had harmed her in such a brutal and horrific manner, they couldn’t believe it. After all, the Goody’s Department Store saleswoman was found engulfed in flames, trying to walk down the side of Herron Road in Panola County on the night of December 6, 2014, slowly moving away from her burning car.
After the fire on her was put out, and it was evident that burns covered 93% of her body, Jessica was airlifted to a Memphis hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries at 2:36 a.m. on December 7, 2014. According to her autopsy, conducted by Mississippi Deputy Medical Examiner Erin Barnhart, Jessica was burned alive, and her cause of death was smoke and soot inhalation, along with thermal heat exposure. Her skin was so badly burned that parts of it were hanging down, which meant that the doctors couldn’t even safely put in an IV on her to help.
Who Killed Jessica Chambers?
The first responders on the scene revealed that after they found Jessica and put the fire out, they tried to talk to her and get her to answer who attacked her. But due to the injuries to her mouth and vocal cord, it was hard to understand what she was saying as it all came out distorted. One of the medical personnel then said that Jessica spoke just three words to him, one at a time, “ohl,” which was interpreted as “cold,” “ursy,” which was assumed to be “thirsty,” and lastly, “eh-weh,” which was after he had asked her who burned her. “Eric was the name that closest resembled what we heard,” he said.
Subsequently, in the hours that she was alive and in the hospital, a few officers attempted to talk to her as well, and all they could conclusively figure out from her mumbling was that Jessica’s assailant was Black. Unfortunately, they found no connection of an Eric with Jessica, so they turned to retrace her steps to unearth some answers. This helped the law enforcement figure out that in the days before her passing, Jessica was in constant communication with a man named Quinton Tellis, with whom she was also last seen alive. So, eleven days after the incident, Quinton was called in for questioning.
In the investigations and interrogations that followed, Quinton admitted to three things – he had had dinner with Jessica on the night she died, they had sex for the first time about an hour before she was found burning, and he kept a 5-gallon gas can in a storage shed. As per phone records, Quinton had propositioned Jessica or implied having a sexual relationship with her at least thrice from December 3-December 6.
However, this only became suspicious because he had deleted all their conversations from his cell after she died. And so, after more than a year, in February 2016, Quinton was indicted on murder charges.
The theory the investigators had was that Quinton got what he wanted from Jessica, so he doused her and her car with gasoline and then burned her alive before hitching a ride to get as far away from the crime scene as possible without arousing suspicion.
The latter was corroborated by a witness who came forth to reveal that she was the one who drove someone who looked like Quinton away from the area, as he had claimed that there was a fire at his aunt’s house, and he wanted to see if she was alright. Though, Quinton’s aunt further implicated him by sharing that her nephew never came to check up on her. However, even with all this, Quinton has not yet been convicted, or even acquitted, of the charges against him.
Quinton has stood trial twice up till now, but both of them have resulted in a hung jury. The first one was in October 2017, whereas the second one was just a year later. They each ended with the different 12-member jurors being unable to reach a unanimous guilty or not guilty verdict, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. It is assumed that this is because of insufficient evidence against Quinton and the fact that Jessica apparently implicated “Eric” for her horrific burning just before passing away.
Read More: Where Is Quinton Tellis Now?