Former Boyfriend of Burned Woman Fatally Shot

March 16, 2019 Updated: March 16, 2019

COURTLAND, Miss.—Authorities are questioning a person suspected of fatally shooting the former boyfriend of a Mississippi woman who was burned to death on March 15, 2019.

Travis Sanford, 33, died at his Courtland home according to Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby. District Attorney John Champion confirmed he was Jessica Chambers’ boyfriend at the time she was burned to death in Courtland back in 2014.

Sanford was incarcerated at the time and cleared in her death, Darby said. The unnamed suspect in Sanford’s death allegedly fired a shotgun while running from Sanford’s house about 7:30 a.m. Darby said, adding Sanford’s girlfriend and two small children were at home, according to the Clarion Ledger of Jackson.

A day after being set on fire in the town of 500 in north Mississippi, about 65 miles (100 km) south of Memphis, Tenn., Chambers died in hospital on Dec. 7, 2014. Two juries are in a deadlock over whether to convict a different man, Quinton Tellis, in her death. Prosecutors say cellphone evidence shows Tellis and Chambers at similar locations, and they played videotaped interrogations in which Tellis repeatedly changed his story when confronted with new evidence. Tellis initially denied seeing Chambers late in the day but later admitted he had been with her up until about an hour before her death.

Defense lawyers accuse the prosecution timeline of being implausible, and have presented testimonies from 10 firefighters and emergency medical workers who claim they heard Chambers say “Eric” set her on fire. Mississippi authorities have not decided whether to try Tellis a third time.

Tellis is currently jailed in Ouachita Parish, La., where the prosecutor says a grand jury will consider charges in the death of Ming-Chen Hsiao, a Taiwanese woman fatally stabbed in Monroe back in 2015. Tellis pleaded guilty in 2016 to using her credit card without authorization. After finishing his sentence for that crime, he was arrested on a charge of murder in her death.

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