donna-jou.jpgOn June 23, 2007 a student from San Diego State University, 19 year old Donna Jou, disappeared. The story behind this disappearance is rare and very questionable if you ask me.

Donna had posted an ad on the famous Craigslist that people post online when looking for certain things or to sell items that they want to sell. Her ad was for her services as a Math tutor. She had hopes of being able to help other students that were having problems with the subject.

Donna was the type that loved to give to others. She dedicated her heart and generosity to baby sitting at the Battered Women’s Shelters. She was a loving daughter to her mother and her father. She was close to her family. She had big dreams of becoming a Neurosurgeon Doctor one day.

John Steven Burgess contacted Donna about the ad and the two soon became trusting friends. Donna attended a party which was held at the home of Burgess in Los Angeles. Investigators believe that he picked her up for the party near her own home.

The night of the party Donna called a friend of her in San Diego and said that she was in the bathroom of the house that the man on the motorcycle had brought her to. She told her friend that the guy that had picked her up for the party was really freaking her out.

The day after the party Donna’s mother received a text message from her daughter that said, “I WILL BE HOME SOON. LOVE YOU MOMMY.” Her mother found it odd that the message was all in caps and that her daughter had called her “Mommy” which is something she never did. The next day she received another text message around 6:08 pm saying, “I’m in San Diego. I love you Mommy, I am coming home.” The following day when their daughter had still not returned home they reported her missing .

john-burgess.jpgInvestigators managed to trace the text messages sent to 35 year old Burgess who liked to refer to himself as SinJin Stevens. Burgess had previously been convicted of performing a lewd act against a child in 2003 and of three counts of battery in 2002. When his place of residence was located he was nowhere to be found.

On July 26, police in Jacksonville Florida arrested Burgess on drug charges but he didn’t give his correct identity. When they took his fingerprints however they discovered that he was the man the police in California was looking for. Detectives from California went to Jacksonville to talk to him but he refused to talk and requested a lawyer.

The state of California extradited him back so he could appear in court for failing to register as a sex offender. Burgess posted bail and was released but he returned to Florida after he had been named as an official suspect in the disappearance of Donna. He had been back in Florida about three weeks when he managed to get arrested again, this time for theft. The bond company in California revoked his bond and he was extradited once more back to California. When he appeared in court again the judge doubled his bond to $500,000.

Nili Jou went to talk to Burgess hoping to get him to tell her what happened to her daughter. He told her that he didn’t hurt her daughter. He admitted that he was at the party and was drunk but he didn’t know where she went.

On May 7, 2009 Donna’s parents finally got a few answers to what might have happened to their daughter. He had also agreed to meet with Donna’s parents at the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters.

Burgess told the family that their daughter had died after he gave her some cocaine, heroin and alcohol at the party she went to at his home. He said when he woke up the next morning she was dead.

Nili Jou had spent two years hoping that her daughter was still alive somewhere but Burgess told her, “Don’t wait anymore, I gave her to the sea.”  He said he has found Donna dead in a chair the morning after the party. He claims he checked her pulse and when he didn’t find one he panicked. He said he put her body in the back of his truck and drove her to her home but then he changed his mind. He covered her body up with a blanket and them put it inside a bag and drove to the ocean He said he took the body in his sailboat and dumped it in the ocean.

Burgess had pleaded guilty earlier in that week to involuntary manslaughter and to concealing Donna Jou’s body. With the plea bargain he made, it was only sentenced to five years in the state prison. He is now scheduled to be released on parole on April 15, 2011.

Should this man be set free again to repeat the offenses he has already committed before? I say definitely NOT. Shouldn’t he be ordered to wear a GPS monitor? I say if they are going to release him that he definitely should be monitored. He is a dangerous man that should never be free but given our laws they say he has the right to his freedom. Since he was definitely already convicted as a sex offender then I think he should be treated as one on the streets as well. He could be and very much so probably will be a dangerous man to be set free. Donna Jou should get some sort of justice out of this. Don’t set this man free please.

Denny Griffin and his CrimeWire team focused on this case in their recent program. You can listen to the recording here.

Jan Barrett

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