Local

A father's hope to find his daughter

Thursday, September 24, 2009
Convicted sex offender John Steven Burgess (left) and Donna Jou (right)

A local father is digging deep into his own pockets to try to find his missing daughter's body.

San Diego State student Donna Jou was last seen nearly two and a half years ago. Eyewitness News talked with her father, who is taking an unusual step in his never-ending search.

"Living without her, it's not a life," said Reza Jou.

Reza has spent more than two years missing his daughter, Donna.

"I try really hard to be normal, but I cannot. No day passes without me crying," said Reza.

The 19-year-old pre-med student disappeared in June of 2007 while away at college. This past May, John Steven Burgess pleaded guilty in connection to her death and said he dumped her body in the bay near Los Angeles. Three searches for her body by law enforcement have been unsuccessful.

"Without her, I cannot live happily," Reza said.

He has taken the unusual step of hiring an independent search team himself. On Thursday, the team started a seven day search using sonar equipment.

"If I have to sell everything that I have, it's worth it to do that because when you have a child that's your commitment," said Reza.

Texas Equusearch founder Tim Miller helped in the initial search for Donna in 2007.

"Donna's body was not taken that far out in the bay and the water really wasn't all that deep. Possibly with the right equipment they may get lucky," said Miller.

The veteran team Reza has hired conducted searches earlier this decade for Laci Peterson's body and for debris from space shuttle Columbia in an east Texas reservoir.

"There's a very, very slim chance of their being much left to find, if she is in the water, and there is still some question about that. But we felt it was important to the family to at least try," said Gene Ralston of Ralston & Associates.

Reza says he has already thought about the emotions he will feel if the team is successful.

"If I find her, it's going to be the most joyous day of my life," said Reza.

He says if they find Donna's body, he is hopeful they will learn more about how she died. Donna would have turned 22 next month.

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