Break in Missing Woman's Case -- 2,400 Miles Away

A man wanted in connection with a missing Calif. college student was arrested.

ByABC News
July 26, 2007, 1:47 PM

July 26, 2007 — -- Authorities in California hope an arrest 2,400 miles away may help break the case of a coed who disappeared more than a month ago under suspicious circumstances.

Police in Jacksonville, Fla., arrested John Steven Burgess, 35, who also goes by the name Sinjin Stevens, on a drug charge Tuesday, Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the sheriff's office in Orange County, Calif., confirmed to ABC News.

Burgess, a convicted sex offender, is a person of interest in the disappearance of Donna Jou, a 19-year-old who had just finished her freshman year at San Diego State University and who met Burgess on the Web site Craig's List. Jou was spending the summer at her parents' house in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., and according to her sister, was eager to meet new friends in the area.

Police say that on June 23, Burgess picked Jou up on his motorcycle to take her to a party at his Los Angeles-area home. According to Amormino, Jou did not know about Burgess' sex offender status, which he received because of a conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, or that he'd been arrested for male prostitution.

It was the last time Jou's family saw her and the beginning of a month of investigative turns that until this week had produced many leads but few answers.

The day after Jou's disappearance, a text message was sent from her phone to her mother indicating that she loved her and that she would be home soon. The family found the correspondence the final time Jou's cell phone was used "unusual."

Investigators obtained a warrant to search Jou's computer records, which confirmed that she had been in contact with Burgess.

They then discovered that Burgess was a sex offender, and because he had not properly registered his sex offender status, police were able to obtain a warrant to search Burgess' home.

By that time, he was gone.

On July 9, police recovered a black tool box that belonged to Burgess about a mile and a half from his house and was designed to fit into the back of his Ford Ranger pickup truck. In it were various items, including a rope, scrub brush and license plate SINJIN 1 that was registered to his truck.