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Crime News Breaking News

Jessica Chambers' Ex-Boyfriend Gunned Down Outside His Home

Travis Sanford, who was incarcerated when his Jessica Chambers was burned to death in 2014, was killed in front of his Mississippi home. 

By Gina Tron
The Jessica Chambers Case, Explained

The former boyfriend of Jessica Chambers, the Mississippi woman who was burned alive and whose murder trial captured national attention, was gunned down Friday morning.

Travis Sanford, 33, was killed Friday morning at a home in Courtland, Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby said. District Attorney John Champion confirmed that he was Jessica Chambers' boyfriend when she was burned to death in Courtland in 2014. Sanford was incarcerated at the time and was cleared in her death, Darby said.

One man has been taken into custody in connection with Sanford’s death, according to WREG in Memphis. Authorities have not publicly identified him. 

Darby said the suspect fired a shotgun at Sanford while running from Sanford's house at about 7:30 a.m. Friday, according to the Clarion Ledger of Jackson. Sanford's girlfriend and two small children were in the home, he said.

Chambers died in a hospital Dec. 7, 2014, a day after being set on fire in the small northern Mississippi town of 500, about 65 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. Police found Chambers walking on the side of a rural road near her burning car. More than 93 percent of her body was badly burned. Prosecutors believe she was inside her car when it was doused with an accelerant then set ablaze but somehow she managed to escape. She died a short time later at the hospital.

Two juries have deadlocked on whether to convict Quinton Tellis in her death. Prosecutors had said cellphone evidence showed Tellis and Chambers at similar locations, and they played videotaped interrogations in which Tellis appeared to change his story when confronted with new evidence. Tellis initially denied seeing Chambers late that day, but later admitted he had been with her up until about an hour before her death.

Tellis and Chambers were new friends and Tellis claimed the pair had sex once. Prosecutors claimed Tellis killed her during sex.

Defense lawyers argued the prosecution timeline was implausible, and presented testimony from 10 firefighters and emergency medical workers who said they heard Chambers say someone named "Eric" set her on fire.

Mississippi authorities have not decided whether to try Tellis a third time.

He is currently jailed in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, where the prosecutor says a grand jury will consider charges in the death of Ming-Chen Hsiao, a Taiwanese woman fatally stabbed in Monroe in 2015. Tellis pleaded guilty in 2016 to unauthorized use of her credit card. After finishing his sentence for that crime, he was arrested on a charge of murder in her death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.