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The mother of the 19-year-old Mississippi woman burned alive and left for dead says her daughter won’t be at peace until her killer is caught. “She cannot rest,” mom Lisa Chambers told NBC affiliate WMC of her daughter, Jessica, a popular former cheerleader. “She knows who did this. She has told who did this.”
As the young woman lay dying on the side of a rural road last Saturday in her hometown of Courtland, firefighters at the scene say she was able to whisper to them. Officials at a news conference on Thursday wouldn't divulge what she told them.
Lisa Chambers said she has been unable to sleep, tormented by the idea that someone would have harmed her child so viciously. She said her daughter’s spirit is with her. “I had a lady call and pray with me, and my dog started barking at the couch beside me, and it was a strange feeling. I knew it was Jessica,” she said.
The family has set up a Facebook page, Justice for Jessica, to help find her killer. Friends are also soliciting online donations through a GoFundMe account as the family prepares to bury Jessica on Saturday.
Investigators, meanwhile, are combing through the South Panola High School graduate’s phone records to determine whom she might have spoken with before her death. Surveillance footage recorded from a convenience store gas station before 6:30 p.m. local time Saturday shows Chambers waving to someone out of the camera's view. She walks over, and eventually returns to her car and drives off.
Firefighters found her car burning 90 minutes later on the side of a road. Her body was nearby. Family members say she had lighter fluid poured down her throat before she was knocked out and torched. Burns reportedly covered 98 percent of her body, and she died from her injuries at a hospital in Memphis.
At Thursday's news conference, authorities revealed that they were able to interview other people who saw Chambers after she left the gas station and before she was set on fire. District Attorney John Champion asked for other witnesses to come forward.
"There's just not a lot of street talk. It’s making our job a lot more difficult," said Champion, adding, "This is a horrendous crime. This was a 19-year-old girl who was just beginning life. No one deserves to die this way — it doesn’t matter who you are."
A 31-year-old man who knew Chambers had earlier been questioned, but he is not a suspect, prosecutors told NBC News. Derrick Turner told WMC on Wednesday that he knew Chambers as a “good girl.” “She was a sweet girl so that's why I'm messed up about it, whatever happened to her," Turner said.