Charges filed in the Donna Jou case, at last

John Steven Burgess has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the presumed death of Donna Jou, who’s been missing from the Los Angeles, California area since 2007. He’s been the prime suspect from the beginning and I’d been wondering why they hadn’t charged him before now.

My assumption—and everyone’s, I think—was that Burgess killed Donna during a rape or rape attempt. The guy is a convicted sex offender, after all, and he approached her with deceit. They met online and he used a false name. But now the police are saying Burgess supplied with Donna heroin and/or cocaine and she accidentally overdosed and died. Hence, involuntary manslaughter.

That surprises me a lot. Donna was, by all I’ve heard, a very straight-edge girl. A very good pre-med student in college, did tutoring, held a job, taking summer classes, no mention of any drug or alcohol abuse. But smart people do stupid things all the time. (I’m living testimony to that.) Perhaps it was just a one-time thing—the fact that she accidentally ODed would seem to indicate inexperience. Or perhaps there was a side to Donna most people didn’t see. I know it’s possible to be a druggie and a good student; I’ve known some people like that. Or perhaps Burgess tricked Donna into taking the drugs. I guess it will all come out at trial.

4 thoughts on “Charges filed in the Donna Jou case, at last

  1. Aimee March 18, 2009 / 5:23 pm

    Seems to me the police would really have to have some good evidence to be able to say somebody died of an overdose when they have no body. Not like they found a bloodstain and a bullet hole in a wall.
    Doing a little assuming myself, but I’m going to assume they’re just going by what Burgess has told them, or told somebody else and it got back to them. If so, this is Burgess trying to put the best possible face on things: better for his defense if the jury believes he supplied Donna with drugs and an accident happened than for them to believe he raped and killed her deliberately.
    As Stephen King almost said in “Green Mile”: “Better they hear “stupid mistake” than “on purpose.”

  2. Meaghan March 18, 2009 / 5:47 pm

    If she had ODed at a party, it seems to me that multiple people must have seen her. The testimony of a dozen or so eyewitnesses would be pretty good evidence. Possibly Burgess had help with the body disposal as well. He supposedly rented a boat and threw her in the ocean. If they can prove the fact about the boat rental, and let’s say someone saw him put a really big package on the boat…

  3. Aimee March 18, 2009 / 8:12 pm

    Also seems to me that “he/she od’ed by accident and I got scared and got rid of the body” is a not uncommon excuse for killers of various missing people.

  4. Anthony March 18, 2009 / 9:27 pm

    If it’s true she accidentally overdosed and it was a cocaine/heroin thing, it was most-likely presented to her as coke (“Wanna do a couple lines?”)—but laced with heroin, a.k.a. a “speedball.” Lots of smart types will do coke at a party, but not so much with heroin because of its scarier reputation—ergo, the latter was present in sufficient amounts to kill a first-time user, who probably didn’t know what she was actually using.

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