The following is a timeline pieced together by the LawNewz Network based on testimony at trial during the state’s case in chief. The defense may refute some of the times and details. We will continue to update this timeline as testimony continues.
Editor’s Note: The town of Courtland, Mississippi, with a population of about 500 people, is where Chambers and Tellis lived. Courtland is about five and a half miles south of Batesville, Mississippi, a small city of about 7,400 people. Prosecutors say Chambers and Tellis went back and forth during the day between the two locations. Google Maps estimates that a drive between Courtland and Batesville takes approximately eight minutes.
December 5, 2014
In an interview with FBI agent Dustin Blount, Tellis says he was hanging out and drinking with a couple of other people in an SUV in his yard. Chambers called and asked him for money. When Chambers showed up at the gas station down the street, he got out of the SUV, walked over, and gave her ten dollars.
December 6, 2014
9:02 a.m. — Chambers texted Tellis and says she just woke up.
9:11 a.m. — Tellis texted Chambers that he also just woke up.
9:50 a.m. — Chambers left her house. Chambers was gone in the morning, her mother testified. Her mother assumed she was at work. Prosecutors say she was up around Rudd Hill.
10:08 a.m. — Chambers says she’s going to pick Tellis up.
10:09 a.m. — Tellis texts Chambers that he’s ready.
10:13 a.m. — Surveillance video from the M&M gas station and convenience store shows Chambers pulling into Tellis’s driveway. (Tellis lived close enough to the gas station where his driveway was captured by the store’s surveillance cameras.) Interrogators claim Chambers had not yet picked up her friend, Kesha. Tellis tells them that Kesha was present and that they are incorrect.
10:14 a.m. — Chambers leaves with Tellis.
10:00 a.m. (approximate) — Kesha Myers, Chambers’ friend, testified that Chambers picked her up. Quinton Tellis was already in the car, Myers testified. They were together an hour or two, she testified. They dropped Tellis off somewhere around “the store” on Highway 51. Myers said Chambers was supposed to pick her up later that night to go celebrate her birthday, but never did. FBI Agent Blount testified that Tellis told him that Chambers and Myers were riding around smoking marijuana. In a recorded interview with local authorities, Tellis said he didn’t smoke anything.
Noon (Approximate) — FBI Agent Blount testifies that Tellis told him that Chambers dropped him off and that he didn’t see Chambers again. Tellis believed Chambers dropped him off in the early afternoon in one interview and in the late morning in another interview. Chambers’ friend, Kesha Myers, placed the Tellis dropoff “an hour or two” after 10:00 a.m.
Unknown Time — Chambers asked Tellis for more money, Tellis claimed in an interview with FBI agent Dustin Blount. Chambers never showed up to collect it, Tellis claimed.
Unknown Time — Tellis later said in a recorded interrogation with local authorities the last time he saw Chambers was when she asked him for $10 after lunch, which he claimed he threw into Chambers’ car during daylight hours.
Early Afternoon — Chambers’ mother testified that Chambers returned home. The mother believes Chambers had been out getting a pack of cigarettes. Chambers then took a nap at home, her mother testified.
1:30 p.m. — M&M surveillance video captured Chambers dropping Tellis off after driving around that morning/early afternoon. This conflicts with the time given by Kesha Myers and one of the times given by Quinton Tellis.
2:03 p.m. — Tellis texted Chambers. She asked him what he wanted. He replies, “some loving.”
4:23 p.m. — According to cell phone records, Tellis called Chambers at 4:23 p.m. (Her mother testified the call occurred at about 5:00 p.m.) The mother testified the call woke Chambers up. Chambers went to the bathroom and left to get something to eat with the phone against her ear, her mother testified.
4:30 p.m. — Chambers texted Tellis that she wanted something to eat and that she’d go with him if he paid for it.
4:35 p.m. — Quinton texted Chambers, “call me.” Twenty five minutes go by.
4:40 p.m. — M&M surveillance video captured Tellis at the store.
4:56 p.m. — Chambers texts Tellis and asks, “where you at?”
5:00 p.m. — It’s dark out. Chambers makes a few other phone calls.
5:00 to 5:15 p.m. (approximate) — Prosecutors believe Chambers left her house.
5:24 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. — M&M surveillance video captured Jessica purchasing gasoline. Tellis is not present at the store, though he claimed he gave her money while she was there. Earlier, he claimed he gave her money while it was still light out. It was dark out by this point.
5:29 p.m. — Chambers called Tellis, according to cell phone records. The call went to voicemail. This was the last call Chambers made to Tellis.
5:34 p.m. — Tellis called Chambers. (Tellis finally admitted, after long denying, that Chambers picked him up at approximately 5:30 p.m. He and Chambers went to Taco Bell in Batesville in her car, he finally admitted. Prosecutors believe Chambers picked up Tellis immediately after the 5:34 p.m. call.)
6:08 p.m. to 6:17 p.m. — The Tellis and Chambers cell phones ping off of the same tower in Batesville near a Taco Bell. Tellis claimed around the middle of the investigation that he and followed Chambers to Taco Bell in a truck owned by “Big Mike.” He claimed the last time he saw Chambers was after leaving Taco Bell: he went one way; she went another. Later, after his alibi fell through, Tellis admitted he rode with Chambers in her car to the Taco Bell. In another version, the state believed Tellis and Chambers were at the Taco Bell for seven minutes, after which she returned to Courtland the same way she always did. (It is unclear from testimony at this point in the trial whether the state recovered any surveillance footage from the Taco Bell.)
6:17 p.m. — Tellis calls someone else. Chambers is in the Taco Bell area. She leaves and comes back.
6:25 p.m. — The Tellis and Chambers cell phones again ping in the same area.
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — Tellis claimed he was at an area called the “sandbox” with “Big Mike” and that “Big Mike” eventually dropped him off at home. This alibi later fell through, investigators stated, because “Big Mike” was in Nashville, Tennessee at the time. Tellis eventually admittedd the “Big Mike” alibi was not true and that several other previously-attempted alibi witnesses were were not really with him. Tellis at one point told investigators he gave Chambers money and weed at the M&M gas station, followed her in Big Mike’s truck to Batesville, recited exactly what they ordered off the Taco Bell menu, and then went to the “sandbox,” but said he might have been messing up his days.
6:48 p.m. — Chambers called her mother according to cell phone records. Chambers stated she would be home soon. Chambers’ mother testified that the call was different because it was quiet in the background. Usually, the mother said, calls from Jessica contained a lot of background noise because she tended to call while driving. (It is unclear from testimony at this point in the trial where Chambers was located during this call.)
7:38 p.m. — Tellis’s mother is captured on surveillance video going to the store. During an interrogation, Tellis’s memory of this is unclear; he doesn’t seem to remember his mother leaving and going to the store.
7:42 p.m. — Tellis sent a text message to Chambers: “Honey, sorry I can’t be there with you tonight.” He also texts that he can’t see her because his girlfriend is coming up to visit from Louisiana. Tellis then calls his girlfriend in Louisiana. (Prosecutors believe the text message was meant solely to throw off the authorities.) (Is is unclear from testimony where the phones of either Tellis or Chambers were located when Tellis sent Chambers this message.)
7:50 p.m. — The M&M surveillance camera showed a car pulling into Tellis’s driveway and up to a shed. Tellis later told police he stored a dirt bike and extra gasoline in the shed.
8:04 p.m. — Tellis’s sister’s SUV drove past the M&M surveillance camera heading in the direction of Batesville. Investigators believe Tellis was driving it.
8:09 p.m. — A 911 caller reports that a car is on fire.
8:26 p.m. – A time stamp on surveillance video places Tellis at a Fred’s Store in Batesville, Mississippi, buying a “Green Dot” money card. FBI Agent Blount testified he did not attempt to investigate whether the time stamp was accurate.
Tellis at one point told investigators he passed first responders, presumably who were heading to the fire, on his way back to Courtland from Batesville. Tellis also claimed he first went to the Piggly Wiggly in Batesville. There, he claimed he unsuccessfully attempted to purchase a money card, so he went to Fred’s Store instead. (It is unclear at this point in the trial whether investigators could or could not place Tellis at the Piggly Wiggly through other evidence.)
Investigators believe Tellis changed clothes, possibly several times, around this time. They also claim he had 36 minutes to get from Fred’s Store in Batesville back to his mother’s in Courtland, drop off a vehicle, and change his clothes.
8:57 p.m. – Surveillance video from the M&M gas station captured an SUV drive toward the direction of Tellis’s sister’s house. Minutes later, the video shows Tellis walking from his driveway to the M&M gas station.
December 7, 2014
2:36 a.m. – Chambers died in a Memphis, Tennessee hospital burn unit.
Investigators testified it took Tellis four minutes to walk from his house to the M&M gas station. He was back and forth frequently.
Tellis tells investigators he was with “Jamie” at some point, but then admits he was not with someone named “Jamie.”