Vigil Held For Donna Jou 1 Year After Disappearance
4:30 AM, Jun 24, 2008
Relatives and friends pleaded Monday for information about San Diego State University college student Donna Jou at a vigil marking the first anniversary of the young woman's disappearance.Standing outside the former West Los Angeles home of convicted sex offender John Steven Burgess, where she was last seen, relatives and friends held signs, some with her photo and others saying "Ask Burgess Where is Donna?""If we keep her face in the media, in front of the public, we'll get some information to lead us to her," Jou's father, Reza Jou, told a Los Angeles TV station, KABC-TV.His 19-year-old daughter went missing on June 23, 2007. The Orange County woman was last seen on the back of a motorcycle driven by Burgess, a 35-year-old convicted sex offender she met through the Craigslist online message board.Text messages sent from her cell phone indicated that at one point, Jou had locked herself in a bathroom and felt in danger at Burgess' house in West Los Angeles, according to her family, who live in Rancho Santa Margarita.Burgess is a suspect -- but has not been charged -- in Jou's disappearance. He is serving a three-year prison sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.After being questioned by local authorities regarding Jou's disappearance, he went to Florida, where he was arrested last July 24 for possession of cocaine, pleaded guilty, was sentenced to time served and extradited to Los Angeles for failing to register as a sex offender.Burgess was released on $250,000 bail, returned to Florida and last Sept. 20 was arrested on suspicion of stealing DVDs. On Oct. 10 of last year, he pleaded no contest to two counts of failing to register as a sex offender and was sentenced to the three-year prison term.Burgess has not given any hints about Jou's whereabouts. A search was conducted last Dec. 29-30 in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu, but did not turn up any evidence of Jou's whereabouts."It is very difficult to say goodbye to my beautiful daughter in the absence of conclusive evidence that she is gone," her father said. "The whole family's life has been turned upside down, but I have to do this. I have no other choice."