Former boyfriend of burned woman shot, killed

Published 6:06 pm Friday, March 15, 2019

Someone fatally shot the former boyfriend of a Mississippi woman who was burned to death, and investigators are questioning a suspect, authorities said Friday.

Travis Sanford, 33, was killed Friday morning at a home in Courtland, Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby told news outlets. District Attorney John Champion confirmed that he was Jessica Chambers’ boyfriend when she was burned to death in Courtland in 2014. Sanford was incarcerated at the time and was cleared in her death, Darby said.

The suspect in Sanford’s death fired a shotgun while running from Sanford’s house about 7:30 a.m. Friday, the Clarion Ledger of Jackson quoted Darby as saying. Sanford’s girlfriend and two small children were in the home, he said.

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Chambers died in a hospital Dec. 7, 2014, a day after being set on fire in the town of 500 in north Mississippi, about 65 miles (100 km) south of Memphis, Tennessee. Two juries have deadlocked on whether to convict a different man, Quinton Tellis, in her death.

Prosecutors had said cellphone evidence showed 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 said the prosecution timeline was implausible, and presented testimony from 10 firefighters and emergency medical workers who said they heard Chambers say “Eric” set her on fire. Mississippi authorities have not decided whether to try Tellis a third time.

He is currently jailed in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, where the prosecutor says a grand jury will consider charges in the death of Ming-Chen Hsiao, a Taiwanese woman fatally stabbed in Monroe in 2015.

Tellis pleaded guilty in 2016 to unauthorized use of her credit card. After finishing his sentence for that crime, he was arrested on a charge of murder in her death.