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.
"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.
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.