- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

PANOLA, Miss. (AP) - The reward for information about whoever burned a 19-year-old woman is nearing $18,000, and authorities say they are narrowing the list of people who might know something about the case.

Jessica Chambers was found walking from her blazing car on Dec. 6. She had been burned over 98 percent of her body,

Authorities will say little more than that they’re making slow but steady process.

Investigators are getting close to identifying “possible people of interest that could lead us somewhere better than where we are,” Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby told The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/1A9HyYi ) that

He says investigators from numerous agencies compare reports and go back to talk to people who have given differing accounts.

They’re “doing shifts” rather than taking a Christmas break, he told The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/1H0dyQz ).

The task force includes people from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the State Fire Marshal’s office, the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The reward grew Monday to $17,800, and more is expected soon, Darby said.

Chambers’ father, Ben Chambers, works for the sheriff’s department. He said he has to stay out of the area where the investigators work.

“They don’t want me to see the evidence up there. I understand their point too, they’re looking out for my benefit,” he said. “They don’t want me to see things that bring back memories, or see something that maybe I’ll think someone had something to do with it and I’ll go do something to some innocent person. They’re doing everything by the book when it comes to me.”

It’s astonishing that nobody seems to know anything, and it’s difficult waiting for DNA evidence and other information, he said.

Darby said investigators expect to get DNA analysis in the coming week and also are waiting on fire analysis.

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