Sex Crimes

John Steven Burgess, Jailed in Teen Donna Jou's Death, Nabbed in L.A. Craigslist Caper

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Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 6:02 AM

  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Burgess.
Cops in Hollywood last night arrested a registered sex offender, John Steven Burgess, who was convicted in the 2007 death of a 19-year-old San Diego State student whose body was apparently dumped in the ocean.

What did the 42-year-old do? Just as he had met late teenager Donna Jou, Burgess reached out to women via Craigslist, police said. But days after they Googled him, found out his true identity, and listened to his story of putting the student's body in a trash can and pushing it off a a boat, these two females called the LAPD, according to KTLA News and City News Service.

Ballsy? Burgess didn't kill anyone ... this time:

Cops told City News Service that he was arrested about 8 p.m. in the 5500 block of Barton Ave. after two women who had responded to a Craigslist ad for roommates earlier this month decided to phone in with their concerns.

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Burgess was arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing ammunition and violating his parole, LAPD Officer Karen Rayner said.

KTLA, which broke the story last night, filled in the rest:

click to enlarge Donna Jou. - DONNAJOU.COM
  • donnajou.com
  • Donna Jou.

The ad promised a rent-free room in exchange for cooking and cleaning, KTLA reported. When Burgess learned that the women are writers, he started to tell them a story, with at least some reflections of the Jou death, that they found bizarre, they said.

They also spotted a woman at the apartment who was trembling in her underwear and apparently out of it, according to what they told the station.


Why was a guy who was convicted of killing a woman hanging out in Hollywood allegedly trolling Craigslist for female roommates? Good question. He got out early after serving less than half of a 5 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter.

The convict had said the teen died after the two had been doing drugs at his West L.A. house; he panicked and dumped her body in the Pacific. Last month marked the fifth anniversary of her disappearance.

Burgess was being held without bail. Jou's body was never found.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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