The family of Jessica Chambers — the 19 year old cheerleader who was doused in fuel and burned alive — will finally be getting some closure. Now that Quintin Verdell Tellis has been charged with her murder, there is a sense that justice will finally be served. But considering his history, this actually raises as many questions as it solves.
Yes, her father is pleased to see someone charged for her murder (he used the word “tickled’), but — as the father asked — why was someone with his criminal history even on the street in the first place?
The Clarion-Ledger spells out a lengthy criminal history. By the time of Jessica’s death, he had been sentenced twice for residential burglary, once for fleeing law enforcement, he had been on parole, and had had it revoked … for anyone interested, the list of his criminal behaviour goes on and on:
Tellis has served time for residential burglary and fleeing law enforcement charges out of Panola County.
MDOC records show Tellis was sentenced in January 2010 for residential burglary and fleeing a law enforcement officer. He received five years for the burglary conviction and five years’ probation for the other crime. He was released on probation that August, but it was subsequently revoked. He was sentenced again in December 2011 for residential burglary and received four years.
Tellis was also sentenced in February 2012 for residential burglary and received three years to serve and five years’ probation. He was released on probation again in October 2014 and subsequently absconded supervision in August 2015.
In May 2011, Tellis had a case for simple assault and domestic violence-simple dismissed after affiants Laketer Harrell and Mary Evans failed to appear to prosecute. He had pleaded not guilty to charges of disturbance of a family, records show.
Later that summer, in July, Tellis was referred to a grand jury for burglary and grand larceny.
While Tellis was incarcerated, MDOC records show various violations, including refusing to work, and staff said he made threatening statements toward them in 2014.
He also received three rules violations while housed at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility: Being in a restricted or unauthorized area, disruptive behavior or disorderly conduct, and abusive, disrespectful language.
When he was booked in January 2012 after his probation was revoked, he was caught with two cellphone chargers in June 2013 while housed at Holmes County Correctional Facility.
In September 2013 Tellis was caught with a Green Dot number while housed at Parchman. (Source: Clarion Ledger)
The news media made mention of Jessica having been in a relationship with him, but according to her father, she had only known him “less than 2 weeks”.
Police described the murder as “appearing very, very personal.” Jessica herself had burns on 98% of her body when she was found at the scene, clinging to life. Witnesses say she did not know her attacker’s last name, but repeated one first name about 15 times.
Besides this, they didn’t have to go far to charge Quintin Tellis. He is already being held and facing charges for using credit cards belonging to 34 year old murdered Taiwanese student Meing-chen Hsiao, found stabbed to death in her Louisiana apartment, last August.
Because her death occurred in the commission of another crime — that is, third degree arson — Quintin Verdell (who called himself “GoHard”) is being charged with Capital Murder. While this could eventually lead to the Death Penalty, it is still too soon to say whether it will do so.
Is there is a silver lining to this story? In fact, there is.
You may remember that early reports spoke of the the FBI investigating 17 people in relation to this case? You might remember the outrage with that story?
Well, as a direct result of the investigation into her death, local law enforcement has cracked down on gang activity. Those 17 were not investigated for her murder, but they certainly were investigated — and in some cases charged — as a direct result of this case.
Officials say they’re now going to take gun and gang issues very seriously, and the 20,000 phone records they sifted through as part of this investigation have already led to numerous arrests for other criminal behaviour.