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Investigators searching for the person who torched a Mississippi teenager and left her burning body on the side of a road are hoping a higher reward will help convince tipsters to come forward. U.S. Marshals upped the reward in the case of Jessica Chambers by $10,000 — on top of the $1,000 being offered by CrimeStoppers. The extra cash comes as investigators await the release of Chambers' autopsy and her family prepares to hold a wake Friday night for the 19-year-old former cheerleader.
District Attorney John Champion told reporters Thursday that there was "not a lot of street talk" in Chambers' hometown of Courtland. She was last seen Saturday night filling up her car at a local gas station. At one point, surveillance video shows her waving to someone out of view and walking over. She soon returns and is seen driving off in her car.
Ali Fahdel, a clerk at McCullar's First Stop gas station, said Chambers had filled up her tank to $14 — which he remembered because she normally gets less than $10 worth. "She told me she was meeting somebody, but I didn't ask her who because I didn't want to be nosy," Fahdel told NBC News on Friday.
Fahdel said he gave police the name of the person who Chambers had been waving to. So far, authorities have not identified any suspects.
About 90 minutes after she left the gas station, firefighters found Chambers' burning car on a back road. She was still alive and able to talk to rescuers, police said. Family members say lighter fluid had been poured down her throat, and she was knocked out before her body was set on fire. Authorities haven't provided details of the crime or what she told firefighters.
The family has set up a Facebook page, Justice for Jessica, and friends are also soliciting online donations through a GoFundMe account to help any financial costs. Her mom, Lisa Chambers, told NBC affiliate WMC that she's "disgusted" by reports that scammers have created online donation pages asking for cash in her daughter's memory. "I don't understand how somebody could be that cruel to try and make money by what has happened," Lisa Chambers said.
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