Jessica Chambers’ brutal burning death stunned the nation. However, the case was specifically disturbing, as the murder went unsolved for more than one year. On Wednesday, Panola County, Louisiana, officials announced the indictment of 27-year-old Quinton Tellis. According to reports, Tellis is also the primary suspect in the murder of a University of Louisiana student.
On the evening of December 6, 2014, Jessica Chambers and her vehicle were found burning on the side of Herron Road in Courtland, Mississippi. Although she was rushed to Regional One Health, the teen was pronounced dead the following day.
According to reports, the assailant doused Jessica Chambers with a flammable accelerant and set her ablaze. Officials confirmed 98 percent of the teen’s body was covered with severe burns.
In the hours prior to the assault, Chambers left her parents’ home, stopped at a local gas station to fill her tank, and visited a friend in Courtland. CBS News reports the teen left her friend’s home at approximately 6:00 p.m. Two hours later, authorities received reports of a vehicle burning on the side of Herron Road.
— The Clarion-Ledger (@clarionledger) February 24, 2016
Although they have a general timeline of Jessica Chamber’s evening, authorities are unsure what happened between 6:00 p.m., when she left her friend’s home, and 8:15 p.m., when she and her vehicle were found ablaze.
Unfortunately, authorities were unable to identify a suspect in the heinous crime. Over the last 14 months, hundreds of potential witnesses and persons of interest were interviewed by police. However, they failed to identify a motive or a suspect in the teen’s burning death.
On Wednesday morning, authorities announced Quinton Tellis, 27, was indicted for the murder of Jessica Chambers. Although they have not disclosed a motive, officials confirmed Chambers and Tellis grew up in the same neighborhood and both attended South Panola High School.
It is unclear whether the suspect and victim were friends, as Quinton Tellis was eight years older than Jessica Chambers. However, some sources have suggested they were romantically involved.
At the time of his indictment and subsequent arrest, Quinton Tellis was already incarcerated in Louisiana on unrelated charges.
— Therese Apel (@TRex21) February 3, 2016
The Clarion-Ledger reports Quinton Tellis is the primary suspect in the stabbing death of 34-year-old Ming-Chen Hsiao — who was a student at the University of Louisiana. Although he has not yet been charged in Hsiao’s death, the suspect was arrested for unauthorized use of the victim’s credit cards.
Tellis’ prior criminal record, which is extensive, includes convictions for burglary, grand larceny, and resisting arrest. He was also cited for numerous violations while incarcerated, including possession of contraband, disorderly conduct, and threatening staff.
The Clarion-Ledger journalist, Therese Apel, suggests the suspect is or was was a member of the Insane Vice Lords street gang. However, “local gang leaders came out of the woodwork to assure authorities and Jessica Chambers’ family that they had nothing to do with it.” Apel also noted, “authorities don’t believe that Chambers’ killing was gang-motivated or that her killer was acting on behalf of a gang.”
It is unclear whether Jessica Chambers willingly spent time with Quinton Tellis on the evening of the assault. However, authorities did confirm he was the last person to see her before she was set on fire.
In a Wednesday press conference, District Attorney John Champion said Quinton Tellis will be extradited to Mississippi to face charges of capital murder in Jessica Chambers’ brutal death. However, he could remain in Louisiana until local authorities complete their investigation into Ming-Chen Hsiao’s death.
Authorities have not disclosed any specific details about the relationship between Jessica Chambers and Quinton Tellis. However, if the rumors are true — they may provide a motive for the heinous crime.