Jessica Chambers was a bubbly, blonde teenager when her life abruptly ended on December 7, 2014 — and still no one has been found responsible for her death by burning. A second jury in two years recently deadlocked on whether Quinton Tellis, charged with setting Jessica and her car on fire, is guilty.
Tellis was a new friend of Jessica’s. They met around Thanksgiving 2014 and knew each other about two weeks before her death. Tellis told investigators the two had sex just once.
In the first trial, FBI Agent Dustin Blount testified that Tellis and Chambers met through a friend at a gas station in their small hometown of Courtland, Mississippi, where Tellis lived just under a mile from Chambers’ home.
“They would ride around a lot together, numerous times,” said Agent Blount, who recalled questioning Tellis during testimony. “He went as far to say they at one time had a sexual relationship.” Agent Blount, who spoke to Tellis at his home 11 days after Chambers died, asked Tellis to describe the sexual encounter and where it happened. Tellis pointed to a driveway just south of the home he shared with his mother.
“He stated they were in the passenger seat, and he went into detail to say the passenger seat was reclined back,” recalled Blount. “He was sitting in the passenger seat, and Jessica Chambers was on top of him.”
According to Agent Blount, Tellis insisted this was the only time they had sex, but prosecutors produced text exchanges that, they argued, proved that Tellis wanted to continue a sexual relationship.
Panola County District Attorney John Champion pointed to these text messages where Tellis asked Chambers for sex multiple times.
“You will see text messages between the two where Quinton is constantly asking Jessica for sex and she is constantly turning him down,” Champion testified in the first trial.
“There was a series of text messages between the two, even on the day that she died, where he is asking her for sex.”
Tellis allegedly spent a portion of that day with Jessica Chambers. The prosecution’s case pointed to how Chambers was found in only her underwear on a cold day.
During the retrial, Chambers’ friend Kesha Myer testified that the three had ridden around in the morning on the day Chambers was set on fire. Chambers and Myer smoked marijuana; Tellis did not, according to Myer’s testimony.
Blount testified in the first trial that Tellis admitted to him that he had deleted Chambers’ contact information and texts from his phone soon after she died, but he didn’t ask why. But legal analyst Beth Karas had the chance to ask Tellis as depicted in an episode of the “Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers” docu-series.
“I wasn’t scared but after we found out who it was...who died there, I mean, I just deleted my contact with her,” said Tellis to Karas in a televised phone call. “Because I didn’t want to have a deceased person on my phone, with a number in my phone that’s just gonna be no longer used.”
What was the nature of their text relationship?
Text messages displayed by the prosecution during the trial indicated that the day before she was set on fire, Chambers had asked Tellis for $6 for food, and Tellis agreed to meet her to give her the money.
On the day she was burned, Chambers texted Tellis at 9:02 a.m. to tell him she just woke up, and he responded a few minutes later that he had too. At 10:09, Tellis texted Chambers “I’m ready,” right after she pulled into the M&M gas station. She’s captured on surveillance footage leaving the M&M minutes later, presumably to pick up Tellis. They allegedly picked up Kesha Myer afterwards, and after the two women smoked marijuana, Chambers dropped Tellis off at 10:49 am.
Around 2:03 p.m., Tellis began texting Chambers, asking for “some loving,” and saying “I need you bae.” The prosecution alleged this was the fourth time in four days he asked for sex from Chambers via text message. Other erased texts included requests for sex such as “Im horny,” “Can I have sum” and “Come lay with me,” which Chambers repeatedly turned down, calling Tellis “crazy” and “wild,” and saying she was tired from working.
The passenger seat in Chambers’ burned car was pushed back, similar to how Tellis had described having sex in her car. Prosecutors argued that it was evidence the two had sex or at least attempted to have sex on that tragic night.
Tellis continues to maintain his innocence.
Learn more about this tragic story on Oxygen Saturdays at 7/6c in “Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers.”
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