Who Buys $14 In Gas? – Jessica’s Story

According to the 19-year-old M&M Gas Station “Owner”, turned “Operator”, now described as “Clerk”, Jessica Lane Chambers bought $14 in gas the night she was murdered. Usually, according to the same principal, she only purchased $4-$5 in gas per trip.

Which spawned numerous people to ask:

jessica chambers invest 7

Who buys $14 in gas?

Simple answer, a teen buying a pack of smokes. Video of the gas station shows a price of $5.30 + tax. Mississippi tax 7% total purchase $5.67. Hand the clerk a $20 and put the rest in the gas tank. Prior trips, hand the clerk a $10 and do the same.

Like many of the questions surrounding Jessica Lane Chambers, the simplest answers are the most correct. What’s less understandable is why so many people in and around Courtland have severe aversion to the spotlight of media.

Although that too can be explained, unfortunately.

Jessica Chambers 3 Jessica’s dad Ben Chambers told the media she was in a “battered woman shelter” two months prior to her death.  Obviously implying Jessica was a battered woman.

However, within the specifically chosen wording is a more subtle implication. After considerable research we can share Jessica was HERE, Leah’s House.

According to their website “Our ministry helps women ages 18 and over who have been incarcerated, deal with addictions, behavioral problems, self-harm, depression, and others”.

While it is quite possible Leah’s House has guests who have suffered abuse, it is not a “battered woman’s shelter“.  Unless, like Ben Chambers, you are trying to reconcile other facets of Jessica’s lifestyle and comfortable defining more complex issues into a category which will provide a distance from what might reasonably be called “guilt”.

Shame is not Jessica’s burden to carry.

By every indication she did right by all she met, and did the best she could while walking a path filled with trepidation and danger.  It is actually remarkable how much innocence she retained, how much hope she expressed, and how little people recognized a simple fact.

The greatest gift you can give another human being is the gift of being understood.

If you look at the interactions Jessica held in the latter part of her short life you can see this quest to being understood. Jessica turns to the guest speaker at the Christian treatment center and says she wants to write a book.

Of course she does; she’s searching to be understood – to find willing ears to listen. At Jessica’s funeral author Linda Oliver said after giving a speech, Jessica Chambers asked her for help to write her own book. “She thanked me for sharing some of the horrible facts of my own story, and then asked for help with hers”.  Oliver said, ‘I want my story to be told.’”

At age 19, a broken home behind her, the only child from the marriage of Ben and Lisa Chambers, numerous step-sisters and step-brothers older and younger.  Everyone else with a home.

Eventually Lisa and Ben remarrying and creating additional family structures, but what about Jessica? Who had Jessica’s back? Who was looking out for her? Who could she turn to?

Who was her rock?

Jessica chambers obit to brother One can easily picture Jess sitting down and being too familiar with the metaphor inside the children’ s book: “Is this a home for hermit crab“?  Ultimately a quest to find out where you fit in to this scheme we call life.

Where is home? Jessica chambers 2When Jessica was eight and nine years old her father, Ben Chambers, was busted for running a meth lab and chop-shop for stolen automobiles. One can only imagine the litany of sketchy characters who would have moved in and out of the ever shifting landscape.

Entering High School at South Panola High, where the world of Football is woven into the fabric of status.  Where Ol Miss college coaches routinely go first to recruit from one of the most successful football programs in the country.

Where High School, to College, to achieving entry into the NFL is actually possible. How to fit in? Cheerleader within the program.

Which exposes Jessica to a world of competitive testosterone gladiators who Ben Chambers would definitely not like.

So is it really hard to believe where you find Jessica in 2012/2013, at 16/17? Living with Bryan Rudd and his family. According to Mrs. Rudd Jessica lived with her for almost two years. Yeah, is this a home for hermit crab?

Apparently not.

To who -or what- was Jessica the primary consideration, and not some displaced other found at the mid-range or even bottom of the priority scale?

Where was Jessica’s safe place?

Carrying a random file box filled with mementos that held some value, where could she unpack those simple dreams and find comfort? Where was the home for Jessica?

Ask these questions and you’ll find Jessica’s story.   The place you arrive is where you’ll understand why Jessica asked author Linda Oliver for help to write her own book.

[…] “She thanked me for sharing some of the horrible facts of my own story” and then asked for help with hers, Oliver said. ‘I want my story to be told.”

Through it all, incredibly, Jessica held an innocence – an outlook free from judgment, free from traditional perspectives of “those people being others“.

She could never look upon anyone as an “other“, because she herself was as undefined as any she would bear witness to.

jessica chambers 8

Shame is not a chapter for Jessica’s story; shame is a chapter for those who simply ignored the quiet unspoken requests which would only be visible if you cared enough to pay attention.

Who was paying attention?  Apparently no-one.

And when you grasp that, when you reconcile those uncomfortable truths within her experiences within this small town Mississippi crowd; when you fully understand how incredibly invisible she was amid the social constructs; only then can you begin to understand why everyone local to her in the aftermath of her death is seemingly ok to just allow her story to quietly disappear.

It is unnecessary in life, and too painful in death, for the Ben and Lisa Chambers’s, the aunts, uncles and others, countless others; the community of Courtland Mississippi, to look in the mirror and ask the hard questions.

It is far easier to point fingers at the innocuous “them“, ‘their fault“, and as a direct consequence avoid the responsibility of their own indecent selfishness.

A lazy and corrupt Sheriff’s department who have allowed a dark underbelly of violent activity to thrive without restraint.  “Move along, move along, nothing to see here….” Until, well, unfortunately, there is something to see – something horrific, something ugly, something now exposed.

jessica 7 DA John Champion

Jessica’s story is not about race, nor where her troubles gang related per se’.

If you really look around you find she was warmly thought of, and held in high regard, across a broad spectrum of people who hold decent dispositions – good people, decent people.

There is indeed honesty from her black friends showing a broad social network who viewed her as a sweet girl of warm and decent disposition.  She was.  Look at her relationship with her niece, Kelsey. It was very special.

As reader JakeandCrew noted:

“Many of her friends, both black and white, knew her since elementary school. She obviously had no misgivings about having both black and white friends – and she had a black boyfriend. He was in a gang, but did Jessica start talking and dressing the way they did? Did she start dealing or using drugs, or committing crimes? I see no evidence of it. I see no evidence of her boyfriend abusing her, either. I’m sure she made mistakes, and bad choices – but don’t we all”?

jessica chambers 4

A solid argument can be made that it was this very lack of judgment toward others that made her a target of immense hatred.   Because amid the same community you’ll find some of the most abhorrent devaluations of human life; especially the life of an innocent.

Who would want to brutalize someone so badly.  Who would want to punish someone in such a horrid and horrific manner.  What kind of hate exists in the heart of a person who would want to defile her, tear her flesh, burn her, listen to her screams, harm and destroy a girl who, by all manner of definition, is the personification of innocent – and lacking judgment toward others.

…And yet, within that very innocence you find the motives of envy, spite and prideful hatred.

The story of Jessica is not a story of her faults, flaws, mistakes or misgivings.  It is actually a story of incredible magnitude when you think of all the challenges she survived, and yet held an outlook of hope.

Searching.

Is this a home for hermit crab“?

Well, now she is home – home with her real Father.  Home with the rock she so longingly sought.

Light of Godjessica chambers angel image

And yet, even in death, she leaves us with a message:

Who in your town could be Jessica. Who in your neighborhood might be Jessica. Who on your street is possibly Jessica….

…. and who, under your roof, might just be seeking to be understood.

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403 Responses to Who Buys $14 In Gas? – Jessica’s Story

  1. 7delta says:

    It’s hard to believe, I know, but I’m speechless after reading this. Thanks, Sundance, for a quiet moment with Jessica. May her voice be heard in the coming days and may her story touch and change the lives of many. We are all Jessica at some point in our lives, even if just for a few brief moments. That knowledge is enough to bring people together, so the next young person will live and live loved.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Oh my….what a sad, true commentary on the heart of this precious child.

    Like

  3. White Hat JD says:

    No sure you can see this without an account but it shows three people in custody of interest since Dec. 8 as of Tuesday’s paper. I can’t get it to copy or I would copy it. If anyone has the Tuesday version of the Panolian Arrest Records, please post. 1. James Jeremi Sanford 1050 B Wells Ext. Cortland, 2. Charlotte Wilkerson, 1067 Carlise, Cortland. Isn’n that close to Jessica’s house? 3. Derrick Dewayne Turner, 686 A Herron Rd. Courtland. has a hold for MODC What does that mean? 4. James Lawrence McClinton, 105 East Compress Rd. Como, arrested and charged with felony malicious mischief. The case will be heard in Circuit Court. (not sure he has any connection at all.) http://www.panolian.com/editionviewer/default.aspx?Edition=b5df5711-8133-44db-9f24-1e166e1bcee9&Page=4e977362-9f90-4cb3-a992-277316bf75e7

    Like

    • LetJusticePrevail" says:

      Yes, you are correct about Charlotte “Auntie Sha Sha” Wilkerson. Her address of 1067 Carlisle Rd puts her almost next door to Jessica’s Mom’s house at 1024 Carlisle.

      Sorry, but this is the best I could do without subscribing to the Panolian:

      And BINGO! That answers TWO questions at one time:

      1) YES, I had the correct address for Sha Sha
      2) She was picked up on 12/8—one days after Jessica died

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ziiggii says:

        begs the question though;

        Why was she released?
        Why did she then go directly to the media for an interview talking about party’s and that’s when they did it?

        Like

    • White Hat JD says:

      Administrator, I put addresses in here so you may want to delete.

      Like

  4. White Hat JD says:

    When I say held for interest, I mean that it says that no. 1 is held for investigation and No. 2 “has a hold”

    Like

    • LetJusticePrevail" says:

      My guess is that Sha Sha was questioned by the po-po after they found her number listed as one of the last people who Jessica talked to, and they discovered that the was a “hold” for Sha Sha on an older issue (like unpaid fines) so they booked her for an overnight stay until she could see a judge, or get a court date. Then she was released on the 9th.

      Like

  5. Herlock Solmes says:

    Typo:

    It’s “Ole Miss” not “Ol Miss.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. White Hat JD says:

    Well, I guess it doesn’t necessarily mean the are still in custody but I see conflicting reports out there saying they are.

    Like

  7. White Hat JD says:

    There is also a Derrick Quartez Holmes of XXXXXXXX Cortland arrested on Dec. 9 has a hold.

    Please don’t publish addresses or telephone numbers here. I don’t care if anyone can find them in the public domain, we don’t want them published on these pages. Admin YTZ

    Like

  8. Holly says:

    Thank you Sundance for writing the story Jessica wanted to be told. Her story and her life matter beyond a murder conviction. There are ‘Jessica’s’ in every town.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. soddy says:

    Leahs’House aka Rachelssister.com looks like it has a religious focus. I’m no expert but would think many people would cry out about that in our free country if a judge sent people there. It also wouldn’t be the first for religions targeting people with free offers to “get them in”.
    “Our discipleship program” sounds like the other side of Black Squad now.

    Like

  10. racerxx says:

    Good writeup Sundance.

    Like

  11. John says:

    Sundance, thanks for writing this. You made a grown man cry. So true and heartfelt. Hopefully this helps other’s notice those who just want to be understood and loved.

    Like

  12. acumenmac says:

    Who would want to brutalize someone so badly. Who would want to punish someone in such a horrid and horrific manner. What kind of hate exists in the heart of a person who would want to defile her, tear her flesh, burn her, listen to her screams, harm and destroy a girl who, by all manner of definition, is the personification of innocent – and lacking judgment toward others

    It struck me as I read this it is logical that the person or person who did this motive was not to punish the victim, but someone close to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Diane says:

    According to the Census Bureau, the town of Courtland has a total area of 1.1 square miles, all land – with 460 people, 157 households, and 127 families residing in the town. There were 169 housing units.

    The racial makeup of the town was 64.57% White and 35.43% African American. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.30% of the population.

    There were 157 households out of which 43.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.9% were married couples living together, 19.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.5% were non-families. 17.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.93 and the average family size was 3.32.

    In the town the population was spread out with 32.6% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 100.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.

    The median income for a household in the town was $35,729, and the median income for a family was $38,125. Males had a median income of $32,125 versus $19,375 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,130. About 12.4% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 24.2% of those age 65 or over.

    ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtland,_Mississippi

    Like

  14. VegasGuy says:

    A couple of recounts of items I have found….
    She told her Mom she was going out to get gas, clean out the car, get a bite to eat, & return home. It was a Sat. night & she could have had plans for later, so those errands would fit a teens agenda for a Sat. evening.

    We know she did get gas. There is a vacuum at M&M & there is a dumpster at M&M. Jessica knew this place well & it would seem logical to do all those errands at the one place. So did she clean out the car there? It (using the vacuum & dumpster) would be out of camera range, and in the area where she went to initially to meet with who ever. We do not know the direction the car went after getting gas, but it should be on the camera footage.

    They did have “food” available at M&M. Did she purchase any that was maybe delivered as she was using the vacuum & dumpster? M&M staff do seem to “provide” delivery services. Again, that should be on camera footage if it did occur.

    One poster way above posted a picture of potentially Jessicas car parked at her house. That car appears to have alloy wheels…but they could be just wheel covers that were in really good condition. IMO they just look “too good” to be wheel covers.

    The aftermath photos clearly show steel wheels so wheel covers would have melted away.

    Someone quite a while ago also asked where the rear licience playe was? On that car it is mounted on the trunk lid. The mounting brackets are made of plastic. The fire would have melted them & the plate should have just fallen to the ground behind the car. So where is it? Did not show up in photos of the scene, but it should be somewhere in the car as evidence right?

    Just a few questions to ponder & look into.

    Like

    • CraftySleuth says:

      There is a car wash across from the church… maybe she went there to clean her car and then came upon the “party” at the church?

      Like

    • PolioLioP says:

      Nope about the license plate. Even if they have a plastic ‘holder’ around them (more like a frame) the plate and frame will always be attached by two or four metal screws. No way a fire would melt them, although if hot enough it might melt aluminum(1220 deg. F). I think someone removed the plate. Before the fire.

      Like

  15. mssmalltown2 says:

    I am so sad for Jessica’s family and friends. I’m sad for the county of Panola and the town of Courtland. So must wasted potential… repeated throughout the country today.

    I can’t stop thinking about Jerrick Todd and Bryan Rudd. Jerrick’s FB post about this being Ben Chambers fault keeps drawing me back to him. Why was he so adamant about this being her dad’s fault.

    I know a lot of people keep pointing fingers at Bryan, but from all indications he really loved her and wouldn’t have done this to her.

    Was there perhaps a score to settle between Jerrick & Bryan and this was done as a way to even a score with Bryan?

    If this has already been discussed and I missed it, my apologies, but I would like others’ thoughts about these two… especially Jerrick.

    Like

    • PolioLioP says:

      As I said in another blog, Jerricks’ faceBook has some very strange posts that go on all night, on the night Jessica was killed. On all the previous days, he posts during the day or evening, as most do. Then on the nite of 12/6-7 he begins posting before midnight some very strange ugly posts about women (including his mother) and these posts go on periodically all night until the next morning. Just for that one night. He never went to bed. Then he goes back to daytime posting after that one night. Something kept him up all night making strange woman-related posts.

      Like

  16. taqiyyologist says:

    Linked at Doug Ross@Journal’s “Larwyn’s Linx” today.

    Like

  17. From my favorite philospher….and what I like to think we are doing here:

    “And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanised. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.”
    ― Joe Strummer

    Like

    • Dan says:

      Joe Strummer was another deranged socialist, and you can tell by the language he uses”
      “People have been dehumanized…” Always playing the victim. You cannot be “dehumanized” unless you agree to it. Otherwise, you are blaming other people for creating YOUR OWN outlook.

      Like

  18. John says:

    A moving tribute, Sundance. Thanks so much. Not to play the blame game, but so many in that town seemed to fail Jessica. Who was her champion, her guide, her mentor, her protector? Apparently nobody. What is a measure of man if he cannot nor will not protect those that are most vulnerable in our society? Especially those who are sworn to uphold justice?

    Sha-Sha’s words haunt me. “Something went wrong, but we don’t know what.” She knows what went down and with who.

    Liked by 2 people

    • taqiyyologist says:

      …so many in that town seemed to fail Jessica. Who was her champion, her guide, her mentor, her protector? Apparently nobody. What is a measure of man if he cannot nor will not protect those that are most vulnerable in our society? Especially those who are sworn to uphold justice?

      John, thank you.

      In doing so — failing Jessica — they failed themselves.

      Like

      • Ellie says:

        Why would a parent let their child move in with a boyfriend and his family at age 17? I do not understand today’s parents?

        Like

  19. jj1990 says:

    Thank you so much, Sundance, for attempting to re-calibrate this conversation and bring it back to Jessica Chambers as a person, and one whose story did not begin the day it ended. Having lurked for two weeks now, I have been impressed by the passion and diligence of most contributors on this site, and now I am astounded by and so appreciative of your understanding and insightful treatment of the struggles of a young woman in Mississippi.

    I’m an early 20s Mississippi female, and I grew up loved and supported and, relative to Jessica, in far better circumstances (fortunately a common “white in Jackson” story – intact, well-off, church-going family). While I won’t claim to have lived the “poorest, dumbest, last in all things Mississippi” narrative, I had enough exposure to it to be unsurprised by the circumstances of Jessica’s life or to doubt that she could have clawed through it all with her faith alive and her innocence intact, if we don’t define innocence solely as sobriety and abstinence.

    In Mississippi especially, anyone growing up today has either experienced, witnessed, or has a third cousin living through a story like hers; I imagine it wasn’t 24/7 drugs and abuse, and I picture her through it all doing things like homework, Facebook, more Facebook, hanging out at Sonic, feeling broke most of the time, agonizing about her boyfriend on the softball bus while texting him a mile a minute at the same time, pranking the freshmen at cheer camp, etc. I know people have discussed her interest in writing a book, but I doubt that until then she saw herself or was seen by her peers as extraordinary beyond her sweetness, goodness and a spirit that was clearly infectious and welcome in all circles.

    I also want to comment about racism in Mississippi among my generation, because I am tired of the misappropriation and attachment of this tragedy to the broader issues in this country – as Sundance said to a race-focused poster, “your response exemplifies what is going on inside your world view as you think about the Jessica Lane Chambers story.” To preface, I am not political or vocal about it, but my perspective on black people is certainly more sympathetic and “liberal” than most of your readers care to see. Growing up, some of my best friends were black, but none were poor and probably for that reason, racism didn’t feature much in my world. My disgust for anti-black racism and my understanding of anti-white racism comes simply from studying our sad, violent history – not from my friends or my parents, who just showed us how to be good and loving to everybody.

    From what I’ve seen, my “sins of the father” complex would seem fussy and weird to people actually living that reality. In Jessica’s world, scarcity and slim opportunity feature uniformly, if not equally, in the lives of everyone and I think that narrative is more instructive than the one about race. I am not saying that racism in my generation isn’t alive and raging in some cases (Johnny Lee Butts) or even pervasive in large circles, but circumstance does seem to be the great equalizer in Courtland, where people don’t gawk at interracial relationships. Sift through the comments on her Facebook memorial and you’ll find white Courtland-area women evidencing and explaining how unremarkable interracial relationships and friendships are. Jessica may have had more social exposure to black kids because of her boyfriends, but no one was actively, politically trying to normalize black and white friendship. It sounds as if she was just a lovable live-wire of a person and, as Sundance explained, “a broad social network … viewed her as a sweet girl of warm and decent disposition.” It sounds like in Courtland, a white girl and a black girl, effectively in the same boat, can form an affectionate, easy friendship on the basis of mutual curiosity and amusement about the differences in white girls and black girls, instead of either honoring the old barriers or trying to get along pretending those differences don’t exist.

    Her father’s objections, if they were in fact focused on her boyfriend’s race and not the alleged abuse, exemplify the attitude and set of values that don’t square with much of my generation’s experience, and that we are in large part ready to wave aside. I don’t have children but one day I will and I imagine any rejected value or message will sting like hell, but older generations need to realize that we are growing up better-connected, more exposed to and less fearful of each other than cultural norms used to permit. All is not perfect, but I do believe my generation is growing into our own arrangement between different races. Jessica’s story ended horrifically and tragically, but to suggest it was inevitable because she hung around black people discredits her agency as, by all accounts, a feisty and independent spirit, and also relieves the perpetrator, if in fact he or she was black, of some human, personal responsibility for this crime.

    All in all, I believe Jessica lived as her own person and, if this attack was not random, she likely died as a consequence of being that person, not because she was white. Someone felt dispossessed in some way by this beautiful, beloved girl – be it rejection, betrayal, jealousy, or any of the reasons enumerated here except the one that relies entirely on her having white skin and he/she/they having black skin. Finally, I apologize for the long post but I wanted to voice my perspective and express my thanks and admiration for Sundance’s powerful, insightful message and reminder to us all.

    Liked by 6 people

    • taqiyyologist says:

      …I had enough exposure to it to be unsurprised by the circumstances of Jessica’s life or to doubt that she could have clawed through it all with her faith alive and her innocence intact, if we don’t define innocence solely as sobriety and abstinence.

      Thank you.

      I apologize for the long post but… SHADDUP! Excellent comment!

      Like

    • taqiyyologist says:

      I don’t have children but one day I will…

      Like

    • taqiyyologist says:

      Jessica’s story ended horrifically and tragically, but to suggest it was inevitable because she hung around black people discredits her agency as, by all accounts, a feisty and independent spirit, and also relieves the perpetrator, if in fact he or she was black, of some human, personal responsibility for this crime.

      No, the comment isn’t too long. All of it bears repeating.

      Like

    • PolioLioP says:

      I’m sorry ‘JJ’, but you are an incredibly naive young woman who has yet to understand the dynamic of race-hate that is currently being played out in our nation. Your little upper-class neighborhood and upbringing did not include the cold facts of how angry, thuggish, young black dispossessed males and females truly act and believe. The entitled blacks you knew had education and probably fathers too. I’ll bet you’ve never set foot in downtown Jackson. Maybe I can help you:

      1. One single black (a girl) came to Jessicas’ memorial service. I watched the whole thing, it’s online. She stood at the very back by the door and was only seen at the very end. Not ONE black sat in the audience.
      2. Linda Oliver, an author, spoke at the service, mentioning that Jessica had wanted her help to write a book on her life. She also stated she was using FaceBook to help and guide her with this – ie posts were made on her FaceBook discussing Jessica writing a book! FaceBook! get it??
      3. Her nickname in the black community, because she had dated and lived with blacks, was “Coon”. It was not affectionate.
      4. She had spent time in a battered women’s shelter in order to get her life together away from the abuse she had suffered at boyfriends hands. A rumor persists that her older step-brother gave her a black eye the week before she died, when he found out she was back to her old ‘dating’ habits.
      5. There is a very prominent black gang problem there, which she was somehow caught up with. It was not the Boy Scouts.
      6. Most of the problems she had in her teen life ALL stem from her decision to embrace black thug/gang culture and probably drug use. She – like you – somehow didn’t get the message.

      I truly fear for your life ‘JJ’, just as I would have hers had she been my daughter. You are not “loved” or even liked by the black race. You are nothing more than a prize, a notch on some nignogs belt when he rapes you, in order to shame and inflame racial tensions and cuckold the “White Man”. And please don’t ever go to downtown Jackson, – you wouldn’t live longer than a day.

      Like

      • jj1990 says:

        Hi,
        I’m responding only to restate my point and, respectfully, to address your sideways interpretation of my comments. I did not deny (or even mention) the existence/ destructive power of gangs (and I acknowledge they are comprised overwhelmingly of young, pissed off and poor black males). I did not comment or pass judgement on Jessica’s choices or pretend she did not wind up in rough company. My point was simply that in her community, it was a normal and unsensational thing for her to be welcome and comfortable among her black peers and neighbors, which speaks to my generation’s evolving racial attitudes. Her family’s disapproval on the basis of race speaks to older views she was prepared to reject, and the resultant tension is what, according to stories of her being thrown out, physically drove her away from them and, I suppose in your view, the far superior (if not reluctant) care of white people.

        I also stated the belief that, if this crime was perpetrated by a black person whom she knew well, it was heinously personal in nature and cannot be appropriated as a “black on white hate crime” by white people seeking to score points in the Michael Brown-related dialogue and turmoil at work in this country. I also believe you either willfully misread me or are incorrect on a couple of points.

        1. I’ve read on this site that black would-be funeral attendees were turned away by the family in the interest of a “private” funeral. Surely they felt unwelcome either way.
        2. I did not dispute her interest in sharing her story. My point was simply that until she was in a context of support, she likely did not view herself or her history as book-worthy subjects. She may have just felt isolated and screwed up, as Sundance said.
        3. “Coon” seems to have been a nickname given to her by her family when she was a child. I don’t see evidence of its use in the black community.
        4. Your comment about the black eye indicates to me only that she suffered violent abuse at the hands of white men she trusted, and I don’t see how it serves your point.
        5. Again, I was addressing my generation’s attitude towards interracial relationships and why she may have gravitated to black friends. I said/ denied nothing about gangs.
        6. After being tossed out by her own family, Jessica was sheltered for several important, formative years by people who happened to be black. I don’t think her history of, or even preference for, dating black guys indicates embrace or participation in gang culture.

        Finally, please don’t fear for me or doubt my grip on the world as it exists outside of Jackson. Since high school, I have lived for years at a time on both coasts of the US in cities notorious for rough, adversarial relationships with the black community and I continue not to hate black people as a policy. No, I am not skipping around Chicago’s South Side searching for new buddies, but I doubt that, if I did, I would be instantaneously mauled by hungry packs of gang initiates or raped according to the circumstances you were kind enough to envision and share. In short, you are welcome to mock my views or privately root for me to be wised up by some black person-inflicted trauma, but until then I continue to believe that no single person deserves this type of suspicious, hateful, knee-jerk treatment until they have demonstrated their capacity for harm and destruction. I think the “lay down with dogs” insinuation both partially excuses the person responsible for this crime, and in addition to being offensive it is a huge disservice to Jessica’s memory, the complicated reality of her life and the impact she had on people.

        Like

  20. hebejg says:

    put some flowers out where this precious, deceased young lady’s car was found please somebody.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. White Hat JD says:

    Another long one from me but it is important.

    Archer52, I have worked with guys like you as a City Attorney. You are heroes and you deserve far more credit and money than you receive for the dedication and love of mankind you bring to your job. Nobody understands this up close and personal better than someone like you. However, I would like to add a broader perspective. You guys focus onto trees, your forest and kicking them out of your domain. Thank God you do. My focus is a little broader in training and interest. What happens to the weak county next door, the weak links in the chain and how do we inoculate our children from the influence of these gangs? Be they can operate two counties away and lure our children, and all of our children are vulnerable.

    I have a suggestion that will probably just upset everyone but the truth is rarely comfortable. I grew up rejecting all drugs, all in time when they were rampant. I resisted all pressure, yet still fit in and was a cheerleader etc. Where did that come from?

    I had a father who was owned his own businesses and worked unGodly hours but who adored me, simply adored me. When he was with me he was 150% with me, nothing else distracted him. I had a serious accident at 14 that the doctors told him they had done all they could do and I wasn’t going to make it. They didn’t know what else to do. I needed to eat but was not eating. My high school educated father barreled into that room demanding the doctors, the cooks, the nutritionalists, the head honchos all take notes. Panicked, he told them the reason I wouldn’t eat is because they were not giving me anything worth eating. He turned to me and said, “Honey would do you like.” Before I could respond, he said, “You like mashed potatoes, don’t you? Yeah, she likes mashed potatoes! And she likes smothered steak, get her some smothered steak!”

    My daddy took charge. I remember thinking I didn’t think he was right but his passion won my heart. I didn’t want to eat but when it arrived I took a couple of bites. And you know what? I LIKED it, I wanted another bite or two. I liked the taste of life. My father knew what I needed better than all of those highly educated doctors and specialists who were ready to throw in the towel.

    Think about that dads. Would you have a clue how to help your daughter or son? Would you even know what they like? Most dads think they are doing enough to provide a home, good food, some clothing to their kids and they can’t understand how they can be lured into these horrific gangs and stuff. But most dads come home from work and sit before the tv and tune out with a cold one or two or a toke or two. They think because they are able to provide for their family they have done enough. They don’t beat their children but their children become more and more distant. Why? Rotten disrespectful selfish kids?

    Maybe. But maybe it is the tendency for us to compare ourselves to the lowest common level of life and wonder why we get out what we gave. We put our focus on the tv, the booze, the drugs, every single day and those little kids were a nuisance to be tolerated or brushed away while we focus on anything but life to escape our miserable boring job or life. And we don’t realize we are tuning into something that will not feed our souls and tuning out of life, our children.

    How does this relate to gangs? Glad you asked. 🙂 I was surrounded by a world very similar with shadowy gang characters in my small community, at the parties I went to. Maybe it was by the grace of God that I was not sucked into that. But maybe that grace of God started with a dad who did not drink or toke. A dad who fond nothing more enjoyable than being with his babies. A man tuned into life and therefore ME! A man who taught me I was a thoroughbred meant to win the race, which he told me every single day of my life.

    By the way he came from a background most people can’t imagine. A background that you would think would mean he would be in a gang the rest of his life. Yet he pulled away and man did he fly.

    All of my life, I wanted to be just like my dad. He was my first knight in shinning armor. He influenced my young husband to get away from that crowd and fly. Till the day he died when I was struggling with an issue, my husband would often say, “Why don’t you call your dad and let him help you. You know how he always seem to say just the right thing.”

    It breaks my heart to see that so few children, but especially girls have a dad like mine. I wish the whole world could. Unfortunately too many dads justify their need for a toke and a drink and think it isn’t hurting anything but it is. It is numbing you to the beauty and wonder of your own children and you reinforce that on a daily basis. You are leaving your daughters to the predators out there because they need someone to tune into them, know them, love them enough to know what they need when predators or death is lurking.

    I have ben richly blessed with the greatest gift of all, a dad who invested in me instead of alcohol, sports, tv or drugs. I worship the ground that man stood on and his believe in me and his love was the armor that protected me. I might roll my eyes sometimes at things he said, but underneath I heard him and I knew he was right. I wanted to please him because he was my first best friend who played dolly with me or sat down for tea and make up sessions and ENJOYED them!

    Why do many daddies prefer to tune out? Do they not realize how vulnerable that leaves their little kids? Do they not realize that when they life is over, they will not wish they had watched more television, drunk more beer, or smoked more weed. They will wish they had spent more time with their babies. And if you look at almost all of those gangster profiles on FB, they all have babies and they LOVE those babies and crow about them. Way more than most fathers. To any girl that is attractive and I don’t care how straight your head is screwed on, a man who loves babies, really loves babies is the most attractive man in the world.

    Wanna protect your good sons and daughters? How about spending your precious free time tuned in and sober learning what she likes to eat, what her dreams are, what her fears are Because if you listen when she is two, she might still be talking to you when she is 22 and on the cusp of a decision that might end her life. She needs you as much or more as her mamma. Don’t delegate that to mom. You can’t delegate love.

    Liked by 8 people

    • CM says:

      You are so very right.
      And for daughters, our relationship with, will shape all future relationships with other men. Our confidence is centered upon how our father saw & treated us.

      All dads should ask themselves, how they wish their daughter to be treated by future boyfriends & husband. Then act accordingly in how you treat her mother, & how & what you teach your little girl.

      All little girls want their dad to be their personal hero, and to be adored as “daddy’s little girl.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • taqiyyologist says:

      (Quit making me cry, JD!)

      Like

    • taqiyyologist says:

      I hope your dad is still alive to read that comment.

      Like

      • White Hat JD says:

        Oh, how I wish he was, Taquiyyologist. He died a year after my husband who died when he was 44. I miss both of them every day.

        Like

    • NEWS SCOOP says:

      great post and points. this social issue is multi generational to.

      Like

    • Ziiggii says:

      “I have a suggestion that will probably just upset everyone but the truth is rarely comfortable”

      as a father of 2, one of which is a 6yo girl, you have encouraged me to work all the harder to be THAT type of man for her. I am no saint and have plenty of my own personal shortcomings, but not to fight is to admit defeat and numb the reality of that which is in front of me!

      Thank you for leading me personally to do just what you have asked all the more, not just to my daughter, but also my son and my wife.

      Like

      • White Hat JD says:

        Oh, that fills my heart with hope and love, Ziiggii! I hope your children get to feel for you the way I do about my dad. It is the greatest gift you can give yourself and definitely the greatest gift you can give you children. Find out what their favorite color is tonight. Find out what fruit they like the best. Get to know them! Good luck!

        Like

    • TCS says:

      You are so very right. My husband is the oldest of 7. 4 boys and 3 girls. His father was useless…yeah he was physically present but that was about it, until they divorced 35 years ago. The 3 girls have given their mother nothing but grief her entire life and continue to to this very day. Zero problems with any of the boys.

      Like

    • Scott S says:

      What a wonderful sentiment, JD. I have two daughters, so your comment really hit home with me. They’re 30 and 27 now, and well on their own, but I still constantly worry that I did right by them all of these years. I’d like to think that they’d tell you have and then some, but I don’t think a dad ever stops worrying about his girls no matter how old they get. Your tribute touched me deeply. Thank you.

      Like

    • sophie1150 says:

      you were fortunate to have such a caring father. I liked what you said until I read the following, “. And if you look at almost all of those gangster profiles on FB, they all have babies and they LOVE those babies and crow about them.” This is such a falsehood. Maybe you could define what LOVE means to them.

      Like

  22. hebejg says:

    not sure who is spearheading the flower drive but thank you for volunteering in this endeavor.
    “Jessica’s Hill” should become a shrine for years to come. it certainly will as long as its not forgotten.
    i make Oxford from time to time and intend to pay my respects. will have fresh flowers in tow.

    Like

  23. Beautiful. Thank you for your insight and caring, Sundance.

    Rest in the arms of the One who loves you, Jessica.

    Like

  24. smalltownlocal says:

    I think the memorial is a great idea.
    Kinda jumping topic, but I drove by the crime scene today. The burn site is actually on the opposite side of the road to what I thought it was. From Courtland, it is on the left. Also, the fire station is closer than I thought.

    Like

  25. Who buys $14 in gas? Maybe it’s me but I don’t understand the question. I paid 18 Dollars for gas the other day for 6 gallons.

    Like

  26. Sean Williams says:

    Things I don’t understand: The absolute lack of community sincerity here (No memorials, candles, etc.)…The amount of Money that is flashed around in pictures by those who seem to simply not have the economic means to have it…The fact that in a small community, no one seems to know anything about what happened that day or where she was after she left the gas station?????? It’s all bizarre to me..

    Like

  27. lydahl says:

    Thanks, Sundance, for understanding Jessica and for helping others understand her.

    Like

  28. Tom Sawyer says:

    Courtland Mississippi is a typical example of the American Experience gone bad. Chances are extremely slim Courtland Mississippi can produce a functionally healthy human being where they and their offspring can thrive…. Put any sweet little White girl in that environment and you will destroy her soul. Put a sweet little girl in front of a TV for that matter.

    Like

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