Friends and family members of Jessica Chambers, the Mississippi woman who was set on fire and burned to death this week, packed a funeral chapel Saturday to remember her life — as questions remained about who killed her in such a horrible way.
Deborah Sanders, the 19-year-old’s aunt, said before the service at Wells Funeral Home in Batesville that the support of the community after the young woman’s death has comforted the family, but they are desperate to find whoever killed her. Hundreds attended the woman’s wake Friday.
"We're going to focus our energy on the capture of those who did this," said Sanders, who planned to honor Chambers by decorating a Christmas tree in her memory — the holiday was Chambers' favorite time of year. "Her mother and I were there when she took her last breath," Sanders said. "The fire took all that away."
Rev. Larry Kilgore told around 300 mourners Saturday that Chambers "fought some battles, some very tough battles," but that she was committed to improving her life before she was killed. He shared the feelings of many who wondered why someone would kill the teen. "Our hearts are hurting, our spirits are burdened," he said.
Chambers' father, Ben Chambers, said his daughter left a battered women's shelter a few months before she was killed. "She was getting on the right track. She had learned her lessons from being in bad relationships," he told NBC News Saturday.
Authorities say Chambers was doused in a flammable liquid and set on fire on a back road in Panola County on Dec. 6, and firefighters found her badly injured but still alive. She later died at a hospital in Memphis. Police have made no arrests, but have questioned one person in the case, who denied knowing her, NBC station WMC reported. A reward on Friday was upped to $11,000 for information leading to her killer.
— Debra Preitkis-Jones