Parents of Slain SDSU Student Demand Craigslist Changes

A man who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of an Orange County college coed he met after responding to an ad on Craigslist is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.

The parents of the victim, meanwhile, will demand Monday that the Internet service block registered sex criminals from using it to troll for victims, their attorney said.

Donna Jou of Rancho Santa Margarita unwittingly became the prey of a convicted sex criminal when she advertised her services as a math tutor on Craigslist. The man has confessed to luring her to a party at his house and then injecting her with a lethal drug overdose.

John Steven "Sinjin" Burgess will be sentenced for involuntary manslaughter Monday, and her parents will use that occasion to demand that Craigslist make some changes on its access policies, the parents' attorney, Gloria Allred, said Saturday.

Jou, a San Diego State University pre-med student, was home for the summer from San Diego State University in 2007 when she placed a Craigslist ad offering to help kids with math problems. It was answered by Burgess, a convicted sex criminal out on parole, who arranged for a date with her.

Jou was last heard from as she frantically sent a text from Burgess' house in West Los Angeles, saying she had locked herself in a bathroom and was afraid.

Her disappearance was covered extensively in Los Angeles and San Diego, and suspicion centered on Burgess when it became known that he had cleaned out his rental house and dumped belongings, including his "Sinjin" personalized license plate, in a garbage bin behind a nearby convenience market.

Burgess fled to Florida and was jailed there on minor charges, then imprisoned in California for violating his conditions for release from prison. Despite exhortations from Allred, he kept mum more than a year as Jou's parents went on local television to express their personal agony at not knowing where their daughter had gone.

This spring, Burgess finally confessed that he had injected an overdose of heroin and cocaine called a "speedball" into Jou. After she overdosed, he dumped her body from his boat into the Pacific Ocean, he confessed.

Burgess pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and concealing her body, and met with Jou's parents on May 9 to apologize in what was described as a teary confession. He could receive a maximum of five years' imprisonment when he is sentenced.

Craigslist has been under fire from prosecutors across the country for allowing prostitutes and strippers to advertise their services for free. The company last week announced it will now charge $10 for such listings and segregate them into an "adult services" category, and only accept such ads after Craigslist workers somehow vet them for accuracy.

But that change has displeased some prosecutors, who said it may still allow Craigslist to offer illegal services.

Allred said the Jou family will release a letter today "suggesting specific changes in the policy and practice of Craigslist, which could help to prevent other convicted sexual predators from being able to use Craigslist to contact unsuspecting young women such as Donna Jou."

Contact Us