BATESVILLE, Miss. – About 400 mourners packed a chapel in Mississippi on Saturday to say goodbye to a 19-year-old woman who was burned alive, among them classmates who used permanent markers to write heartfelt messages on her white metal coffin.
“Fly high, Jessica,” said some, a reference to the former cheerleader’s aerial acrobatics, according to the Rev. Eric Greggs, one of three speakers at the 45-minute service.
Chambers graduated from South Panola High last year and worked in sales at a Batesville clothing and gift shop.
Alabama author Linda Oliver said Chambers had recently asked her to help write a book about her life.
Oliver, of Birmingham, said Chambers approached her while she was packing up after a speech about her own book at an Oct. 25 church conference in the Batesville area.
“She thanked me for sharing some of the horrible facts of my own story” and then asked for help with hers, Oliver said. “She said, `I want my story to be told.”‘
Contacted later by email, Oliver was asked by an Associated Press reporter if she spoke with Chambers long enough to learn her story. Police are reconstructing the last few hours of Chambers’ life and are asking for more information from the public.She was still alive when a passing motorist saw her lying near her burning Kia Rio sedan about 8:15 p.m. Dec. 7, and she spoke to rescue workers, District Attorney John Champion has said.