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Missing student Donna Jou's family wants case reopened

June 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The family of missing college student Donna Jou does not want her name forgotten and are pressing to have her murder case reopened.

"I want my baby beside me. I wanted to see her grow. I wanted to make her a bride. I want to see my grandkids," said Nili Jou, the grieving mother of Donna Jou.

She last saw her 19-year-old daughter June 2007. Later that year, convicted sex offender John Burgess, 41, gave his account of what happened to Donna Jou.

Burgess met the San Diego State University student through a Craigslist ad she posted for math tutoring. He told authorities that Donna Jou came to his house for a party, where he gave her drugs including heroin and cocaine. The next morning, he said he woke up and found Donna Jou dead. More than a year later, Burgess said he dumped her body in the ocean.

Her mother doesn't believe Burgess' story. Desperate for answers, Donna Jou's parents went searching for her remains on a sonar-equipped boat. But there was no sign of the body bag with cinder blocks like Burgess had described.

"Why he took it from me? Why? What happened? Tell me what happened," said Nili Jou.

Burgess pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and one misdemeanor count of concealing an accidental death.

The District Attorney's office said the case was extensively investigated by LAPD and that the defendant was prosecuted and the case has been completed.

Now, on the four-year anniversary of her daughter's disappearance, Nili Jou is facing the prospect of Burgess' early release after 2 1/2 years behind bars.

He was originally sentenced to five years, but his time was cut due to good behavior and an overcrowded prison system. Donna Jou's family was outraged with the curtailed sentence, calling it a slap on the wrist for the death of their daughter.

"I am begging. I am begging Mr. Cooley. Please reopen Donna's case and find my daughter," said Nili Jou.

Burgess' projected release date is December 2012. When he gets out, Nili Jou said she plans on tracking his moves closely, hoping he will lead her to Donna Jou.

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