Man charged with Mississippi teen's 2014 burning death

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 24, 2016 4:34 PM

By Therese Apel

BATESVILLE, Miss. (Reuters) - A man has been indicted for murder in the burning death of a 19-year-old woman, a prosecutor said on Wednesday, more than a year after the crime rattled a small Mississippi town.

Quinton Verdell Tellis, 27, is charged with killing Jessica Chambers, who was discovered on fire and walking away from her burning car on Dec. 6, 2014, outside the town of Courtland in northern Mississippi. She died of her injuries a short time later.

Authorities in Panola County said Tellis and Chambers knew each other as residents of the same town, but gave no motive for the slaying. They also refused to disclose the dying statement she made to firefighters who came to her aid.

Tellis was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday. He was already in jail on charges in an unrelated case in Louisiana, where he moved last summer.

In August, he was arrested when he was found in possession of items belonging to Meing-Chen Hsiao, 34, of Taiwan, who had been stabbed to death in Louisiana, authorities said. He has been charged with the unauthorized use of her debit card but not her murder.

Ben Chambers and Lisa Daugherty, Jessica's parents, said they had never heard their daughter mention Tellis. They said they felt confident investigators had the right man in custody but were not completely relieved.

"She's got to have justice," Daugherty said. "That doesn't come until the conviction."

The 14-month probe involved investigators from local, state and federal agencies.

"It's very rewarding to know that someone who is capable of this degree of evil will have to answer for his actions," Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain told a news conference in Batesville where the arrest was announced.

Prosecutors said Tellis did not yet have a lawyer in the Mississippi case.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney)