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Registered sex offender pleads guilty in case of missing O.C. woman

May 6, 2009 | 11:44 am

Handout photo of Donna Jou, a 19-year-old San Diego State University student, who went missing after being seen with John Steven Burgess. Burgess pleaded guilty today to involuntary manslaughter and concealing a body in connection with Jou's disappearance and death. 

A registered sex offender pleaded guilty today to involuntary manslaughter and concealing a body in connection with the disappearance and death of a 19-year-old San Diego State student.

John Steven Burgess, 36, who had long been a suspect in the death of Donna Jou, had refused to talk to authorities about his contacts with her, even as he served a three-year state prison sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.

In court today, Burgess, who met Jou through a Craigslist ad, said the Rancho Santa Margarita resident came to his Los Angeles home in June 2007 for a party at which he gave her alcohol and drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

When he awoke the next morning, he said, he found Jou dead, panicked and used his sailboat to dump her body in the ocean. Her body has not been recovered.

Burgess fled after Jou vanished. He was arrested in Florida in 2007 for failing to register as a sex offender and refused to talk to authorities while serving his sentence. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 18 in Los Angeles County Superior Court to five years in state prison, prosecutors said.

He has also agreed to meet privately with Jou’s family to answer their questions.

-- Paloma Esquivel

Left photo: Donna Jou. Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Department

Right photo: John Steven Burgess. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times