By Justavian Tillman and McKenna Wierman
University of Mississippi
The death of Jessica Chambers, 21, has left some college students at the University of Mississippi feeling frustrated and outraged.
Chambers’ death affected Batesville native, Olivia Battle, a senior studying exercise science. Battle cheered with Chambers in junior high and high school.
“The fact that this not only happened in my hometown, but to someone I knew is quite frightening,” she said. “It is also scary that her killer(s) have not been caught yet, and it has me on the edge, because you never know if the killer(s) are hiding, or just waiting on their next victim.”
The tragedy happened less than 40 miles from Oxford and has forced some students to open their eyes.
Kaypounyers Maye, a sophomore English education major, said the case has made him afraid for today’s youth.
“The fact that her case is shrouded mystery makes me fear that situations like this could possibly happen more often if teenagers are not better educated on the severity of recognizing harmful relationships,” he said.
Savannah Brantley said the case seems surreal.
“It is frightening to think that, only 30 minutes away, a girl was lit on fire and was burned alive on a normal day,” she said. “You hear about these kind of sad things happening in other places, but it was shocking for that incident to happen so close to us.”
Derwin Payton, a sophomore public policy major, said he isn’t surprised the case has gone unsolved.
“I am ashamed to say, however, I have gotten used to it, because it happens so frequently when a murder happens,” he said. “The police respond, but many times, it does not solve an issue.”
Students were also asked if they felt safe in light of the nearby crime. Haley Ruffin, a student at The University of Mississippi, said although the Chambers murder happened close to home, she felt – after learning the details of the case – it was an isolated incident, and she does not feel unsafe going out on her own.
Tiffanie Troxell, another Ole Miss student, agreed with Ruffin.
“You take a certain risk just leaving your house every day,” said Troxell, a Florida native who must often make long car trips alone. “I don’t feel nervous traveling alone because I don’t know anyone who would want to hurt me.”
Troxell said traveling alone assumes a certain amount of risk, regardless of race, age or gender.
Samara Shabel, a New Jersey native who also travels long distances on her own, said the Chambers murder made her nervous – not because it remains unsolved – but because of the violent and gruesome nature of the attack.
“As a young woman, you’re always told to be careful, to watch out, don’t walk alone at night, keep your keys between your knuckles, just always be on guard,” said Shabel. “It’s always a little scary traveling alone because, we as young women, have been taught all our lives just to expect that people will want to hurt us.
“I don’t think any of my friends or family would want to hurt me, and it’s not like I’m afraid of every person I see walking down the street or at a gas station when I stop to fill up my tank, but you know, you’ve got to keep your guard up.”