FBI: Investigation into teen burned alive yields gang arrests

Jessica Chambers

JACKSON, Miss. (WKRG) -– The investigation into the murder of a Mississippi teen who was burned alive has resulted in the arrests of 17 suspected gang members, though none are charged in her death, reports The Clarion-Ledger.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says the men have been charged in north Mississippi as a part of a major operation targeting suspected gang members called “Operation Bite Back.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Don Alway announced the indictments on Tuesday.

Officials say the operation focuses on Panola County, Mississippi, and is a byproduct of the deep investigation that has come through the probe into the death of Jessica Chambers.

jessicachambers
Jessica Chambers

Chambers, 19, was burned alive on Dec. 6, 2014 in Courtland, Mississippi. Just after 8 p.m., she was doused with gasoline and set on fire inside her car next to the gate of private land, police said.

The 19-year-old got out of the car and was found on the road with burns over most of her body. She died hours later at a hospital in Memphis.

Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby told The Clarion-Ledger Tuesday’s arrests are not directly related to Chambers’ death but to information gathered as authorities have interviewed more than 150 people and sorted through more than 20,000 phone records trying to find her killer.

FBI spokesman Jason Pack said as the bureau assisted state and local investigators, suspected illegal activity came to light and resulted in the indictments and arrests Tuesday morning.

The indictments charge the 17 suspects on a variety of violations ranging from child endangerment, possession of stolen firearms, narcotics sales and felon in possession of a firearm to possession of counterfeit currency.

Federal agents targeted suspected members of the Black Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Sipp Mob street gangs, reports the paper.

Jessica Chambers’ burned car
Jessica Chambers’ burned car

“It’s taken eight or nine months, if not a little longer, to get to this point,” District Attorney John Champion told the paper. “And this is not over by any stretch of the imagination.”

At the time of her death, Chambers’ family announced they were offering a $43,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Panola County Sheriff’s Department at662-563-6230 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-729-2169.

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