Jessica Chambers Update: Last Words Of Mississippi Girl Burned Alive Named Her Killer As 'Eric' Or 'Derrick'?

Patrick Frye

In the latest update for the Jessica Chambers case, authorities are saying they may know identity of the person(s) she was with before the Mississippi girl was burned alive near the end of 2014. The last words of Chambers may also provide a clue to the identity of the killer, but investigators say they are close to putting together a full picture of the "mystery hour," which preceded her death. Jessica's father, Ben Chambers, also believes that Mississippi police already know the identity of the murderer, but they are looking for more "key evidence" in order to build a solid case before making any arrests.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, the FBI and local police have started arresting black Mississippi gang members as part of "Operation Bite Back," but so far, none of the arrested suspects are facing murder charges since none of them are believed to be connected to Chambers' death. Part of the reason police suspect that a gang member may be involved is due to reports that Jessica "spurned a relationship invitation by a black gang member" shortly before her death.

According to Fox 8, District Attorney John Champion believes the 17 suspected gang members will not be tied directly to the Jessica Chambers case, but he also claims the arrests could lead to further evidence. "In their plea negotiations, all will be given the opportunity to help themselves – and maybe that will bring us closer to the truth," he said.

Friends of the 19-year-old cheerleader said the girl started to run with a rough crowd before she died.

"I think she was making friends with the wrong people, with drug dealers," explained ex-boyfriend Bryan Rudd, according to People magazine. "She did nothing that was bad to get herself burnt alive."

Jessica's best friend in high school, Leslie Hall, claims that Chambers was indeed experiencing a rough time in her life before the murder, but in October of 2014 Jessica told Hall that "she was going to church and everything was falling into place for her." Hall says she never expected the girl to be burned alive in such a horrific fashion, and even though it's been a year Hall says she is scared to leave her house at night.

"We still don't know anything," she says. "It has scared the whole town to know someone could do that and still be around us. It could be anybody."

Another family friend named Jordan Bryant believes that Chambers was not randomly murdered.

"I think it was real personal," he says. "I wouldn't wish that type of death on anybody. I think someone was trying to send a message."

Jessica Chambers' last words may have also left a message for police. Before having the girl burned alive, the killer squirted lighter fluid down her throat, and into her nose, before lighting her ablaze, but reports say Fire Chief Cole Haley heard her say a man's name, either Eric or Derrick, despite having charred vocal chords. Champion has confirmed that he has heard this detail about the case, but can't confirm its validity.

Earlier in the investigation, police spoke to locals who had these two names, but none of the men were connected to the crime. The FBI recently arrested a Dedrick Ivery, whose name sounds similar to Derrick, but he was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, child abuse, firearm enhancement, and felony possession of a firearm in proximity to a school/church. Ivery has not been named as a suspect in the Chambers case as of this report.

It is possible that authorities already have a suspect in mind already. Back in August, Jessica's father said investigators know the identity of the killer, but they are looking for more evidence.

"I talked to the investigator and he gave me some good information," Ben Chambers said. "They know who done it and they got proof. They just need some more proof."

More recently, District Attorney Champion says they know who Chambers was with during the time period of 6:30 p.m. and 7:32 p.m. on December 6, 2015, the hour before she died. Champion says he is "cautiously optimistic" about finding the killer since the "hour holds the key to solving our case."

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for any information which leads to the "identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Jessica Chambers."

"We continue to solicit the public's assistance in solving this heinous crime," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway. "With the public's help, we are confident that information will be uncovered which will lead to the arrest and successful prosecution of the individual or individuals who cruelly and brutally attacked and killed Jessica Chambers."

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 601-948-5000, the Panola County Sheriff's Department at 662-563-6230, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-729-2169.

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