On Thursday evening, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms put out a release announcing the addition of $10,000 to the $43,000 currently offered. That includes money from U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office, CrimeStoppers, and private donations.
“We all have a vested interest in arresting and bringing to justice the person(s) responsible for this heinous crime,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Phillip Durham. “Arson is a crime of violence leaving physical and emotional scars that last a lifetime. Only those victims who have survived understand the sheer terror of being attacked by fire. Unfortunately, Jessica Chambers’ life was cut short, as she did not survive.” (link)
Jessica Chamber’s car was doused from bumper to bumper with an accelerant, presumably gasoline. Volunteer Fire Chief Cole Haley incident report notes upon arrival (8:13pm) “the car was engulfed in flame”.
Non-typical disposition – Upon inspection three vehicle tires were completely burned away, one was barely present. Historical investigative presentations indicate during a “typical car fire”, the tires, along with the vehicle undercarriage, are the final elements to fully ignite.
The current pattern strongly suggests each wheel was doused, in addition to the exterior sheet metal, as gasoline was poured lengthwise around the circumference of the car.
Accepting the burn pattern as an indication of intent, the killers/arsonists appear to have wanted to torch every inch of the car, inside and out – and not just the victim herself.
Which brings particular aspects into focus. The perpetrators used more than an easily transportable amount of gasoline. The perpetrators used more gasoline than would have been needed to ignite the vehicle interior alone. A small amount (less than 8 oz) would have been enough to turn the passenger compartment into an inferno – the extensive use of fuel quantity on the exterior suggests something else should be considered a motivating factor.
Following the vehicle burn pattern, and combining the statement of Chief Cole Haley, fire analyst estimations present accelerant quantity beyond a standard U.S. gallon of fuel.
Poured inside, outside and essentially bumper to bumper, both along the apex’s and parallels (sides) of the vehicle.
The arsonist(s) likely anticipated no expectation of an extended burn. Given the known geographic proximity to the fire responders it is likely the perpetrator(s) held a disposition to insure the vehicle destroyed before the Fire Department had time to respond.
As a general guide it would customarily take 17 to 24 minutes for an unassisted fire pattern to find oil burn value within the tires. Unless special attention was paid by the arsonist(s) to accelerate the pattern with accelerant directly on the tires, or secondarily upon the tires as a result of apex liquid fuel distribution.
Considering the vehicle was parked directly under an approximately 48-year-old pine brush tree, it cannot be ruled out that approximate disposition of vehicle was potentially an intentional factor adding to the elements of purposeful burn.
Accepting Intent – What was the disposition of arsonist(s) in relationship to the vehicles exterior. Investigative inquiry should focus on suspect profile in relationship to car’s exterior and tires.
SUMMARY for INVESTIGATIVE VALUE – What primary or secondary considerations [evidence] did perpetrator(s) hope to destroy beyond the primary victim – profiling intent?
Media photography during Mississippi Bureau of Investigation analysis of vehicle notes investigators intentionally peering under the front end. This effort is atypical for fat people. Thick thighs and calves coming together make leverage against the knee joint and instability is a result. (If you had to squat with a pillow stuffed behind each knee)
2005 Kia Rio is front wheel drive. Front wheel drive distributes surface material back and in an upward position toward the front quarter panels based on disposition of wheel direction. While traversing non paved roadways it is also possible for the front end of vehicle to make surface contact (bottom out).
Suspect(s) hands may have made contact with vehicle surface area prior to final disposition. Hand/Finger prints on vehicle, combined with possible damage to the rear of the vehicle may indicate need to thoroughly ignite entirety of vehicle exterior.
♦ Suggest review of prior North Mississippi arrest/conviction database reports comparing known current persons of interest to prior arrest and/or conviction reports using palm or print evidence as part of previous probable cause affidavit.
Burned substrate may indicate genetic profile of accelerant, however most organic material will have been consumed by the fire itself.
However, gravel would survive fire – and additionally gravel could be located in vehicle undercarriage as consequence of drive train transfer. Gravel is ubiquitous to region; from common cheap river rock (half of the gravel cost of a typical 10 yard load load would be the delivery fee). However, a premium uniform stone, distinctive in color or size, is customarily used on an upscale property (an extra 10 or 20 dollars a cubic yard for stone).