Suspect in Donna Jou Disappearance Pleads Guilty

The case of a Donna Jou, a 19-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita woman who went missing in June 2007, comes to a sort of resolution today. Registered sex offender John Steven Burgess, 36, plead guilty this morning in Los Angeles court to involuntary manslaughter and concealing an accidental death in connection with Jou's disappearance.

Jou's family has said that Donna and Burgess met each other over Craigslist, when Burgess answered Donna's ad offering her services as a math tutor. In June 2007, Jou hopped on the back of what is believed to be Burgess's motorcycle and sped off to Burgess's west Los Angeles home. Her family never saw her again.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Burgess today in court said that he gave Jou cocaine, heroin and alcohol at the his home during the party on the night she left with him. The next morning, he found Jou dead. Panicking, he took her body out on his sailboat and dropped it in the ocean. Police arrested him in Florida later in 2007 for failing to register as a sex offender, but he refused to discuss Jou's disappearance while serving his sentence.

The Times reports that Burgess is scheduled to be sentenced to five years in state prison on May 18. He has also agreed to meet privately and answer questions with the Jou family.

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Speaking to the Weekly last week for a story about Craiglist killings, Jou family lawyer Gloria Allred said the case highlighted the need for greater precautions on the popular classified ads site.

"It's like the Wild West on Craiglist," Allred said. "Anything can happen and does."



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