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Crime News

Trial Set To Begin In Horrific Burning Death Of Teen Jessica Chambers

The 19-year-old former cheerleader was burned alive.

By Gina Tron

The murder trial for a Mississippi teen who was burned alive in 2014 is set to begin this week. Jury selection will reportedly begin on Monday, October 9.

Jessica Chambers was just 19 years old when she brutally murdered. On December 6, 2014, the former cheerleader left her mom’s home to clean out her car while wearing pajama pants. She never returned home. She was found later that night coming from the woods on a rural road across from her burning car. Prosecutors believe Chambers' car had been doused with an accelerant before being set ablaze, and she suffered burns on more than 90% of her body, according to CNN. She was still alive when first responders reached her, and she told them the name of a man she said was responsible for the heinous act.

She died shortly after being rushed by helicopter to a hospital. Her horrible death has haunted the tiny town of Courtland, which has a population of just 500.

Quinton Tellis, 29, is standing trial for her murder. He’s facing capital murder charge for her death.

Tellis is also a suspect in the murder of Meing-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old University of Louisiana-Monroe student from Taiwan, who was found stabbed to death eight months after Chambers was killed. Tellis has not been charged or indicted for Hsiao's murder. However, he pleaded guilty to the unauthorized use of Hsiao’s credit card, which resulted in a decade-long jail sentence.

Chambers’ friend Kesha Myers told CNN that she, Tellis and Chambers hung out the day of Chambers’ murder.

“We knew he was the last person she was with,” prosecutor John Champion alleged at the time. 

Tellis has pleaded not guilty to Chambers' murder.

Before Tellis’ arrest, 150 people in Courtland were interviewed by police, over a fifth of the town. Two hours before she was killed, Chambers was seen at a gas station putting $14 worth of gas in her car. According to TIME, that was unusual. Ali Fadhel, a clerk at the gas station, said Chambers almost always put $5 worth of gas in her car.

"I asked her, 'Why are you putting so much gas?' She said, 'I'm going somewhere,'" Fadhel told the Associated Press.

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