Mother's investigation into son's death raises new questions - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mother's investigation into son's death raises new questions

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(WMC-TV) - A Mid-South mother of four is convinced that one of her sons was murdered. And after spending the past four years trying to prove it, she is turning to the Action News 5 Investigators.

Frances Chambers says her small town police department failed to do its job. She even had her son's body exhumed for a second autopsy.

Now, federal investigators are asking questions.

"He lived with me for 36 years. My son never came back. I had this horrible feeling that night. It was something that I couldn't shake," Frances described the night her son died. "I knew something was wrong. My son, it seemed at the time, he was fearful of something. He was lying there in the ditch. His hand was up in a defensive mode. I felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on me."

Frances and Curtis Chambers raised four children in Marianna, Arkansas.

Her son Demond was mentally and physically disabled.

"I always told him he was handi-capable," said Frances.

Demond Chambers raked yards and did all kinds of odd jobs on Lucille Street in his neighborhood here in Marianna. The money he earned went to his church or others in need.


Mrs. Chambers says Lucille Street was a haven for drugs and gang violence four years ago when her son went to rake a yard and never came home.

His body was found two days later, face down in a ditch.

"There's no way Demond would naturally end up right there. No, he wouldn't. That's what I didn't buy," said Frances.

Mrs. Chambers believes something sinister happened to her son, despite the Arkansas State Medical Examiner ruling Demond Chambers died of natural causes, likely a seizure.

Demond did take seizure medication and witnesses reported he was drinking the night he died, but it is what is not in the medical examiner's report that stands out...a most peculiar piece of evidence.

"There were things in his private area that could have only gotten there by someone doing that," said Don Mullenix, private investigator.

Don Mullenix is a private investigator hired by the Chambers family.

He says Demond's body was discovered partially disrobed, beaten, abused and that a clover leaf had been inserted directly into Demond's privates.

"From the investigation I did in 2009, and this is 2013, my mind has not changed a bit. Demond was killed. He was actually beat to death," concluded Mullenix.

Lee County Coroner O.L. Hightower, a funeral director and Marianna city alderman, admits he bathed Demond Chambers' body before he shipped it to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy.

As for the clover leaf?

"How do you suppose that got there?" Action News 5's Joe Birch asked the coroner.

He responded, "I have no idea."

Joe asked, "But you do remember what I'm talking about?"

In which Hightower answered, "Well, I think I may have."

Frances Chambers says the Marianna Police Department refused to follow up on the case despite leads uncovered by her private eye.

Mullenix says informants told him that Demond got into an argument with gang members, known drug dealers on Lucille Street, the night he died.

"Demond made somebody mad and in the gang world, it's respect. So what he did, he disrespected them," said Mullenix.

The Chambers family says they took every penny they had and had Demond's body exhumed so a second autopsy could be done.

That autopsy was performed using 3-D imaging at the Nebraska Institute of Forensics.

Dr. Matthias Okoye ruled Demond died of blunt force trauma to the head, chest, and abdomen - homicide.

Marianna police refused to talk about their investigation, or the second autopsy, referring Action News 5 to the city attorney.

"We don't have a murder as long as the state medical examiner says there's no murder," said Marianna City Attorney Bill Lewellen. "I can tell you after doing this for many years, you can hire an expert to say anything you want to say. It's according to what side you're on."

Francis Chambers is on the side of justice.

She says she knows who her son encountered the night he died and she wants Marianna police to follow those leads.

"They did not do their job and they don't do their job," said Frances.

Mullenix added, "This family is not going to give up."

There are many other details of this case that raise questions about what really happened to Demond Chambers.

Action News 5 heard that a federal investigator has been asking questions about the case but it is unclear if the FBI has launched a full scale investigation.

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