Student Dumped in Ocean After Possible OD: Cops

Police say they believe a San Diego State University student who disappeared nearly two years ago died of an overdose while using drugs at a party.

Convicted sex offender John Steven Burgess was charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Donna Jou. He's also charged with a misdemeanor count of concealment of an accidental death and one count each of sale or transportation of heroin and sale or transportation of cocaine.

Los Angeles police Detective Ron Ito says Burgess gave Jou heroin and cocaine at a party at his house. Witnesses said she passed out in a chair and died of an accidental overdose.  Ito says Burgess told investigators he rented a boat and dumped her body in the ocean.

Burgess pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The complaint alleges that the crimes occurred on June 23, 2007 -- the date that Donna Jou of Rancho Santa Margarita was last seen alive. Her body was never found.

Jou and Burgess apparently met on the Web site Craigslist in late May or early June of 2007 and began exchanging e-mails, her parents said. Eventually, they agreed to meet in person.

Jou was last seen by her family as she rode away on the back of Burgess' motorcycle. She was later seen at a party at his rented, Palms-area home, authorities have said.


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"She was a very ambitious girl," said Donna Jou's father, Reza Jou, outside court. "We love and miss her so much."

Burgess -- who was considered a suspect at the time in Jou's disappearance -- is serving a three-year sentence handed down in October 2007 after pleading no contest to failing to register as a sex offender.

Burgess had been set to be released from prison this weekend in connection with that case, according to attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Jou's family. He is now being held in lieu of $1 million bail for the latest charges.

Burgess was convicted of battery in 2002 and, the following year, convicted of committing a lewd act on a child. He was sentenced to 146 days in jail, placed on three years probation and required to register as a sex offender.

If convicted of all the current charges in the Jou case, he faces a maximum of seven to eight years in state prison, prosecutors said.

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