The cruel murder of a 19-year-old girl just weeks before Christmas 2014 shocked and sickened an entire community, but an arrest in the case more than a year later is providing both comfort and the knowledge that her death will have led to a major break in gang crimes in Mississippi.

Jessica Chambers was found on the side of a rural road, her still-smoldering body covered in burns and wet with gasoline, and died several hours later after being transported to a Memphis hospital.

Now, authorities have announced the arrest of 27-year-old Quinton Tellis who was indicted by a special grand jury while in custody as police investigate the stabbing death of another woman, an exchange student from Taiwan studying in Louisiana.

Chambers and Tellis, who has self-identified as a member of the notorious gang, The Insane Vice Lords, had attended high school together and may have had a brief relationship.

“Nothing will ever bring her back,” her father, Ben Chambers, told local reporters, “but the arrest will bring closure for the family.”

Using her cellphone, Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators working in conjunction with the FBI, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, were able to delve into Jessica’s life and develop information about her contacts based on her social media activity.

Special Agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi said, “Many cities across the country have success pooling resources with Federal and State agencies to fight and control gangs and gang-related violence. It’s our intent that this operation will be the start of that here in Panola and surrounding counties.”

The cooperation led to a major gang investigation, “Operation Bite Back,” that netted 17 arrests on charges ranging from child endangerment and possession of counterfeit money to drug sales and possession of stolen firearms, but none related to Jessica’s death.

More arrests of gang members in the northern Mississippi county are anticipated as Panola County District Attorney John Champion told local reporters, “It’s taken eight or nine months, if not a little longer, to get to this point. And this is not over by any stretch of the imagination.”


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