"I'm Afraid": Donna Jou's Mother Speaks Out on Convicted Killer's Release

John Steven Burgess pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2009 and claimed that Donna Jou overdosed on drugs, He said when he found her dead, he panicked and dumped her body in the ocean.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The mother of Donna Jou speaks out about the release of her daughter's convicted killer. Lolita Lopez reports from Alhambra for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (Published Thursday, Jul 24, 2014)

    A man who served time in connection with the 2007 disappearance of 19-year-old San Diego State University student Donna Jou was released from prison Thursday, a day Jou’s family had been dreading.

    Jou disappeared on June 23, 2007. Her mother last saw her getting on a motorcycle with John Steven Burgess, a registered sex offender who had answered an ad for math tutoring from the San Diego State University student.

    "She said I love you, bye," Donna Jou's mother Nili Jou recalled.

    Burgess pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2009 and claimed that while he and Jou were partying, he gave her cocaine and heroin. Burgess said that Jou overdosed on drugs and when he found her dead, he panicked and dumped her body in the ocean. Jou’s body was never found.

    Donna Jou's Mother: John Steven Burgess "Never Should Have Been Released"

    [LA] Donna Jou's Mother: John Steven Burgess "Never Should Have Been Released"
    John Steven Burgess was arrested Monday night in Hollywood on a parole violation. In 2007, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of San Diego State University student Donna Jou. Her mother says the 38-year-old parolee should not have been released from prison after serving less than half of his five-year sentence. Patrick Healy reports from Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 24, 2012. (Published Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012)

    "He got away with the murder," Nili Jou said.

    Burgess served two and a half years of a five year sentence and was paroled. After his release in 2012, he placed a Craigslist ad looking for a roommate. Two women who answered his ad and discovered his identity contacted authorities, who found drugs and ammunition at his residence – a violation of his parole.

    "Every time he is in and out, you know, it means the system is not working," Nili Jou said.

    Donna Jou's Killer to Walk Free

    [LA] Donna Jou's Killer to Walk Free
    John Steven Burgess, 38, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and concealing the death of 19-year-old Donna Jou. (Published Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012)

    Burgess returned to prison after violating parole. He was released Thursday and now has until Monday to report to the Los Angeles County Probation Department where he will be equipped by a GPS tracking system because of his standing as a sex offender.

    Nili Jou wants to make sure people are aware of Burgess’ presence. She said that she plans to have flyers made and spread in the neighborhood he lives. Because of Megan’s Law, his exact address will be made public.

    "I'm afraid and I'm sure he’s going to do it again," Nili Jou said.

    Nili Jou said she goes to bed looking at a photo of her daughter and says the photo is also “the first thing” she wakes up to every morning. Despite the seven years that have passed since Donna Jou’s disappearance, her mother is still hopeful.

    "I don't think it’s ignorant or denial or anything like that, but my heart tells me she is still alive somewhere," Nili Jou said.

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