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Cops Question Man in Burning Death of Mississippi Teen Jessica Chambers

Mississippi Police Release Man Questioned About Jessica Chambers 1:01

Authorities in Mississippi questioned and released a man over the killing of a teenager who was set on fire and burned to death over the weekend, according to local media.

Derrick Turner, 31, had been held in the Panola County jail since Monday for questioning in the grisly killing of Jessica Chambers, 19, according to NBC affiliate WMC. He was released on Wednesday afternoon and told WMC that he had not seen Chambers in a few months.

Chambers was last seen at a gas station Saturday night around 6:30 p.m. She was found alive, and on fire, about 90 minutes later near her car on a rural road in Panola County. She died at a hospital in Memphis; no arrests have been made in the case, according to The Clarion-Ledger. Her death was being investigated as a homicide and the initial autopsy shows she died from burns covering 98 percent of her body, the newspaper reported.

Calls placed to the local district attorney and the sheriff's office seeking an update on the investigation weren't immediately returned.

Chief Cole Haley of the Courtland Fire Department said emergency responders first came upon the scene of a burning car and thought it was fairly routine.

"We were expecting it to be a normal car fire," he told WMC. He told his team, "Put it out, extinguish it, be done with it."

But then he saw Chambers lying next to her burning car. She whispered some words to him, but he couldn't disclose those utterances at this time, according to the station. "I realized who the victim was and it was just shocking," he said.

Investigators told WMC that it appeared someone poured an accelerant on the teen before setting her on fire.

Ben Chambers, Jessica’s father, said what happened to his daughter was incomprehensible. “Only part of her body that wasn’t burnt was the bottom of her feet. … I want to see justice for this so bad,” he told WMC. “Why? What did she do? What kind of monster are you? … That’s a part of me that’s gone forever.”

Her sister, Amanda Prince, said Chambers was a cheerleader who was "really well known, she was loved." Prince set up a Facebook page in a bid to help investigators solve her sister's murder. “Nineteen years old. I don’t know how you come back from that," Prince told NBC affiliate KTSM. "I haven’t seen her since July and now I’ll never see her again.”