Mother, daughter charged after alleged at-home abortion
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN/Gray News) - A Nebraska woman is facing a number of felony charges after police claim she helped her teenage daughter have an illegal abortion, then bury the remains. The teenager is also facing charges.
Jessica Burgess, 41, has been charged with improperly disposing of human skeletal remains, concealing the death of another person, providing false information and performing an abortion without a license, KOLN reports.
According to court documents, an investigation began after police learned that a 17-year-old girl, who has since turned 18, had allegedly asked Burgess to help her bury the remains of a fetus.
The Associated Press reported the teenager is Burgess’ daughter.
Medical records cited in the court documents show the teen was found to be 23 weeks pregnant, as of this March, with a July due date. Documents show she “unexpectedly gave birth” at home in the bathtub on April 22 when she was about seven months pregnant. That’s when she allegedly asked Burgess to help her bury the remains.
Nebraska law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks, according to the AP.
The body of the fetus was found buried north of Norfolk. The documents allege Burgess, the teen and a third person attempted to burn the body prior to the burial.
An autopsy performed on the fetus revealed the lungs never contained air, but according to court documents, this could mean it was a stillbirth or the fetus suffocated.
The teen is facing charges of prohibited acts related to human skeletal remains, concealing the death of another person and providing false information. She had originally been charged as a juvenile, but she is now being tried as an adult.
Since the charges were filed, Norfolk Police have interviewed both Burgess and the teenager.
During interviews with the teen, investigators say she referenced Facebook messages to look back on the date the miscarriage took place. According to documents, this prompted police to file a search warrant with Facebook that would later be granted for messages between Burgess and the teenager.
The messages obtained from Burgess’ account shed more light on what happened.
According to documents, messages she exchanged with the teenager discuss pills she obtained for her online. The messages specify she needed to take one pill to stop hormones and then wait 24 hours before taking a second pill. A friend of the teen’s reached out to the Madison County Attorney’s Office and reported she saw the teenager take the first pill.
The teenager then says she can’t wait to get the “thing” out of her body and confirms with Burgess that they will burn the evidence after.
According to documents, police learned Burgess bought medication online that would cause a miscarriage, and the teen told police Burgess gave her the pills.
Documents also show a search warrant was conducted on the home, and 13 items were taken, including phones and laptops. Notes on the search warrants say it will take “weeks or months” to go through the evidence they’ve received from warrants.
Burgess has pleaded not guilty. She will appear in court in early September, and a jury trial date has been set for October. She was held on a $10,000 bond.
The teenager has also pleaded not guilty. She will appear in court at the end of August. A jury trial date has been scheduled for November. She was held on $20,000 bond and has since been released from jail.
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