Jessica Chambers was burned along with her car on a Mississippi backroad in 2014. Recent acquaintance Quinton Tellis is on trial for her death
Quinton Tellis, the Mississippi man suspected of murdering two women in two states including a 19-year-old Mississippi woman he allegedly burned alive, may have thought he smothered her before setting her on fire along with her car. Prosecutors revealed this finding during the first day of the murder trial.
District Attorney John Champion said he believes Tellis had sex with recent teen acquaintance, Jessica Chambers in the passenger seat of her car before the events that lead to the murder by arson.
“I think he suffocated her,” Champion said. “And thought he had killed her and that he had to get her away from his house.”
Tellis allegedly realized Chambers was still alive and that is when he drove Chambers’ car with her inside down a backroad, got in his sister’s car, grabbed gasoline and doused both Chambers and the car before lighting them on fire, champion said.
The face of an alleged double killer: Quinton Tellis, faces life in prison if convicted of capital murder in the burning death of Jessica Chambers.
Tellis, 29, faces life in prison if convicted of capital murder in the death of Chambers three years ago. The body of the petite teen was found next to her razed car the night of Dec. 6 on Herron Road, in Courland.
Fire Chief Cole Haley, of Courtland Fire Department, recalled arriving at the scene.
He said he saw Jessica standing in the middle of the road with the car engulfed in flames near her, clothed in her underwear and no bra. Haley said his first reaction was to get a blanket to wrap around Chambers to help “conceal her.”
He knew Chambers before that night, but the two were not friends, Haley said. He walked the victim to the back of the fire truck. When “she couldn’t go anymore,” he laid her down, and she reached out for his hand.
He asked her name and she responded “Jessica Tambers.” With her mouth “just charred black,” Haley said he realized she was trying to say “Jessica Chambers.”
Haley then asked what happened to her and Chambers reportedly said, “I was set on fire.” He testified that he asked who set her on fire but her response was garbled.
“I was face to face with her, and you could barely understand her,” he said. “She kept asking for water.”
Chambers was forced to drink lighter fluid before she and her car was set on fire by an assailant, allegedly, Tellis, in Dec 2014
Chambers had burns to 98% of her body and was airlifted to a Memphis hospital where she died, shortly after.
Champion also went over other details of the case in his opening statements.
He said Chambers and Tellis had only known each other for a short time before she was burned to death on a backroad in the rural community of Courtland.
After his arrest, Tellis initially told police he had not been with Chambers at all on the day of her death, but reportedly changed his story multiple times during questioning.
He claimed to have been buying a pre-paid debit card at the time Chambers was killed, but prosecutors believe he intentionally went to the store after setting the woman and her car on fire to create an alibi for himself, The Clarion-Ledger reported.
Lisa Chambers, Jessica’s mother, testified in court about the pain of permitting her suffering daughter to ‘go’ in ICU
The defense has highlighted that Chambers did not say Tellis’ name when asked who hurt her. At least eight first responders reportedly claim Chambers gave them the name “Eric” when asked who set her on fire.
Champion acknowledged Chambers gave a name to first responders that does not match Tellis’, but said by the end of the trial, the evidence “will change your mind, I can promise you.”
Prosecutors, however, believe Tellis is responsible for Chambers’ death, pointing to a “number of lies” they allege Tellis told law enforcement in the months after Chambers’ death as well as cellphone data they claim puts Chambers and Tellis together throughout that December day.
Authorities analyzed over 20,000 telephone numbers as part of the investigation and 40 people are listed in court documents as potential witnesses in the trial, WREG reported.
Jessica Chambers, best friend Kesha Myers testified to the relationship Chambers had with Tellis and revealed Chambers was “selling drugs every day.”
Myers said she did not know who Chambers’ supplier was but noted Tellis did not smoke marijuana on the two occasions the three were together — the days before and the day of Chambers’ death.
The jury of seven men and five women was selected from outside of the Panola County area due to an enormous amount of pre-trial coverage over the past three years.
Quinton Tellis is also implicated in the death of Meing-chen Hsiao. 34–year-old Taiwanese student Hsiao, was found stabbed to death in her Monroe, La, apt on Aug 8, 2015
A Panola County grand jury had indicted Quinton Verdell Tellis in Chambers’ death while the 28-year-old Courtland, Mississippi man was incarcerated on suspicion of being liked to another homicide., this time in Louisiana.
Tellis had been arrested in 2016 after using credit cards belonging to a dead woman, Meing-Chen Hsiao, a 34-year-old student at the University of Louisiana Monroe.
Six months after Chambers’ death, a friend found the Taiwanese exchange student, fatally stabbed in an apartment the same day Tellis married his wife on Aug. 8, 2015. Authorities initially believed the recent graduate had been slain by someone she knew.
The student had been missing for a week and during that time, Tellis is accused of using her credit card once.
He was identified in surveillance footage later, spending about $1,000 using the credit card during two transactions in Monroe, police said.
The Louisiana murder indictment, alleges shallow knife wounds on Meing-Chen Hsiao’s face and body probably were inflicted to get her to reveal the pin number for her debit card before Tellis killed her.
He was arrested on three counts of unauthorized use of an access card and one marijuana possession charge two weeks after authorities discovered Hsiao’s body. He already plead guilty to fraudulent use of her card.