A little over a week ago, on December 6, 19-year-old Jessica Chambers was found on a desolate road in Panola County, Mississippi, having been badly burned from head to toe. Her car, so badly burned the paint had burnt off, was burning alongside her. From My Fox Memphis:
The Panola County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a car fire outside of Courtland Mississippi they say killed a young woman Saturday night.
The cause of the fire is not known. According to Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby, a passing motorist alerted his department and the fire department to the scene. Darby says by the time rescue workers got on the scene the car was fully engulfed in flames. The driver tried to tell rescuers something but she was so badly burned she could not be understood.
Jessica died after being airlifted to Regional Medical Center in Memphis.
Her father, Ben Chambers, told reporters that investigators told him his daughter was set on fire. From Wave 3 News:
“When the fire department got there, she was walking down the road on fire,” he said. “Only part of her body that wasn’t burned was the bottom of her feet.”
He continued as he held back tears, “They squirted lighter fluid down her throat and in her nose, and apparently they knocked her out. She had a big gash on top of her head.”
Jessica’s dad also told reporters that she may have whispered the name of her killer to paramedics before she died, but investigators won’t say what she told them.
The timeline of that night is far from being complete, but here’s what I’ve been able to piece together from various news reports. Jessica’s mom, Lisa Chambers, said her daughter came home Friday night after ending her shift at Goody’s Department Store in Batesville, where she had recently started working. She woke up Saturday morning for a little while, but then went back to sleep for most of the day. On Saturday evening, Jessica left to go get her car cleaned.
Lisa said she spoke with her at around 6:48 PM, and Jessica said she was going to get a bite to eat.
Shortly before speaking with her mom at 6:48, Jessica stopped at a gas station off Highway 51. From The Clarion-Ledger:
There is surveillance video from a gas station in Courtland that shows Chambers in her last hours. She runs into someone she knows and is called off-camera. She can be seen from a different view returning alone.
In the background, a man in a striped shirt is seen filling up what looks like a gas can, then he walks away with it.
Authorities have cleared the man filling the container.
By 8:15 PM, Jessica and her car had been set on fire.
Ali Alsanai is the gas station owner and was working the night Jessica came in, quite possibly making him one of the last people to see her alive. He told WREG that nothing seemed out of the ordinary that night.
“She seemed normal,” he said. “She didn’t seem like something was going wrong, you know? She just seemed normal. She just pumped some gas, we had a talk, and she left.”
There are a lot of rumors and speculation surrounding Jessica’s death, almost like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Hacktivist group Anonymous has allegedly gotten involved in the case, tweeting some pretty interesting (although I can’t confirm how accurate) things about the community, claiming that it’s corrupt and run by an alleged gang known as “The Black Squad.”
I won’t go into anything else, but you can read their timeline on Twitter here. It’s interesting, to say the least and if half of what they’re saying is true, it’s also pretty alarming.
In some of the earlier reports, the sheriff’s office told reporters that they believed Jessica may have had plans with two people that night, but they have never officially called out any suspects.
Other rumors circulating have said that Jessica may have been the victim of domestic violence in her last relationship.
According to WMC Action News, investigators went to the home of Jessica’s ex’s parents today and have since announced that he has been cleared as a suspect.
The District Attorney’s Office also announced today that they have cleared Ali Alsanai, the owner of the gas station, despite many posts by bloggers online alleging that he may have had something to do with it.
Several other people are reportedly being questioned by detectives, but no arrests have been made.
According to her family, Jessica didn’t have a boyfriend or any enemies that they knew of.
A cell phone believed to be Jessica’s was found at the crime scene and investigators are reviewing it for clues.
Another possible clue was reported today that might shed some light on the killer’s transportation the night of the murder. From WMC Action News:
“I called the sheriff’s department and I told them everything that I knew,” said tipster Ray McClenic. “I said, ‘What y’all are looking for, I don’t know what kind of vehicle.’ I said, ‘But it’s got really, really loud pipes on it.'” McClenic said he heard a vehicle driving fast down his street the night Jessica Chambers was discovered burning next to her car in Courtland, Mississippi more than one week ago.
So could the killer or killers have been driving around in a car with a really loud muffler?
Jessica’s father works as a mechanic at the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, and so The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has joined the investigation, as well as the FBI.
The autopsy results are expected to be available sometime this week, which will hopefully shed some more light on how Jessica was killed.
There’s a Facebook Page called “Justice For Jessica” that is run by Jessica’s sister and other family members. Their most recent update details how torn up Jessica’s family is about what happened to her:
Jessica Chambers mother Lisa can’t bring herself to put up a Christmas tree. Jessica was going to help her set the tree up and decorate it this week. Lisa Chambers says multiple times she has gone to get the tree out of the box but she just can’t bring herself to do it. #JUSTICEFORJESSICA
Perhaps an even sadder detail of this whole thing is that this isn’t the first tragedy suffered by the Chambers family. A couple years ago, Jessica’s parents lost their son to a car accident.
Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers at (800) 729-2169. The reward for information is expected to get up to $30,000.
– Father speaks out after daughter set on fire and killed
– Burning victim’s last words could lead detectives to her killer
– Investigators going over phone records of teen burned alive
– Sheriff: No arrests imminent in Jessica Chambers murder
– Investigators follow new lead in Jessica Chambers murder case
– Man target of death threats in Jessica Chambers case
– FBI, ‘Anonymous’ now involved in burned teen case