John Steven Burgess to stay in prison

I had previously written about how the man convicted of killing Donna Jou was about to get early release from prison. He had only been sentenced to five years anyway, because without Donna’s body and other crucial evidence, they were forced to just accept his story that she’d died of a drug overdose. And then he was going to serve just half of those five years.

Not so fast.

John Burgess, to the relief of everyone, is not getting out after all. He will be released from prison, but delivered immediately to the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and spend at least a year in their jail. The article I linked to provides a great summary of Donna’s disappearance and Burgess’s crimes.

It’s better than nothing, I guess.

Donna Jou’s killer to be released

John Steven Burgess, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Donna Jou, is about to be released from prison, having served half of a five-year sentence. From the article:

With an overcrowded prison system, it is common for state prisoners to be released after serving half of their sentences with good behavior. [Donna’s mom] Nili Jou said she received a notice in February that Burgess is scheduled to be released April 15.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I’m frustrated. I’m angry.”
On the Jous’ website,, the family has posted the letter it received from state corrections about Burgess’ release. According to the letter, Burgess is to be paroled in Los Angeles.

It’s pretty disgusting. Mostly because I don’t believe, and Donna’s parents don’t believe, and many others don’t believe Burgess’s story as to how she died. According to him, she accidentally ODed on some heroin and cocaine he gave her. But Donna had no history of drug use. She was a very responsible, intelligent young woman, a pre-med student, who knew perfectly well the dangers of using hard drugs. And Burgess is a sex offender and the last time anyone talked to Donna, she said he was “freaking her out” and she had locked herself in a bathroom to get away from him. Oh, and he supposedly left her body lying in the bed of his pickup in a residential neighborhood for a couple of days before disposing of it. In southern California. In June. And nobody saw or smelled anything.


But what can you do? The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has spoken. Somehow I don’t think there’s any rehabilitating HIM.

John Burgess sentenced to five years in prison

The Los Angeles Times reports that John Steven Burgess got a piddling five years for his role in the death of Donna Jou. If it was just the fact that he gave her drugs and she died, five years would be enough. Maybe more than enough. Donna knew what she was getting into. But the whole dumped-her-body-and-let-her-family-agonize-over-her-fate-for-almost-two-years thing ought to triple that sentence. Pity they can’t give him more time.

I love this part: “I couldn’t keep going on with it being on my conscience,” he said. “I wanted her family to know the truth.” Funny, then, that he didn’t ‘fess up until the cops confronted him with all the evidence and filed charges.

Guilty plea in Donna Jou case

John Steven Burgess has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Donna Jou. She accidentally overdosed on illegal drugs provided by Burgess, and he disposed of her body. It was never found.

“Murder without a body” cases seem to be increasing exponentially. I often do additions/updates on such cases several days in a row, or sometimes more than one a day.

More on Donna Jou

Articles galore:

Los Angeles Times
More Los Angeles Times
San Diego Union-Tribune
The Associated Press
Orange County Register

The OC Register article says Donna took the drugs intentionally, and she went to the party planning to use drugs. Again, smart people do stupid things sometimes. When I was younger, I had a sort of mental list of things I should do to prove I was grown-up. Things like get a driver’s license, have sex, get a job and so on. Using drugs was one of those things. I indulged a little in college; many people do. Thank goodness I never got in over my head, and thank goodness I outgrew that silliness quickly (though it took me longer to outgrow the binge drinking). I had no better sense than Donna, only better luck.

The police are looking for the body, but I don’t think they have a prayer. The Pacific Ocean doesn’t like to give up its dead, and it’s been almost two years. That’s IF Burgess was telling the truth about where he put it.

He faces only seven to eight years in prison if convicted. That’s disgusting.

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.