NewsLocal News


Nebraska mom pleads guilty to giving daughter pills for an abortion and helping bury the fetus

gavel court law legal
Posted at 1:22 PM, Jul 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-10 14:22:28-04

MADISON, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska mother pleaded guilty Friday to giving her 17-year-old daughter pills for an illegal abortion last year and helping to burn and bury the fetus.

Under a plea agreement, Jessica Burgess, 42, of Norfolk, admitted to providing an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, false reporting and tampering with human skeletal remains. Charges of concealing the death of another person and abortion by someone other than a licensed physician were dismissed.

Burgess was accused of helping her then-17-year-old daughter, Celeste Burgess, end her pregnancy. Madison County District Court documents show she ordered abortion pills on the internet.

After the teen aborted the 29-week-old fetus, the two burned the remains and buried them in a field north of Norfolk in northeastern Nebraska. Authorities later found the burned fetus.

Madison County Attorney Joe Smith has said it's the first time he has charged anyone with illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks, a restriction that was passed in 2010. In May, Republican Gov. Jim Pillen signed a 12-week abortion ban,

Jessica Burgess is set for sentencing Sept. 22. Two of the counts against her are felonies; one is a misdemeanor.

Celeste Burgess, now 18, was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty in May to removing, concealing or abandoning a dead body. She is scheduled to be sentenced July 20. She faces up to two years in prison.

Via Facebook messages, the two discussed terminating the pregnancy and plans to destroy the evidence. The messages, which law enforcement acquired using a search warrant, were detailed in court documents.

According to the documents, the daughter talked in the messages "about how she can't wait to get the 'thing' out of her body." She also said "I will finally be able to wear jeans." In one message, Jessica Burgess told her daughter she had obtained the pills and gave her instructions on how to end her pregnancy.

Last summer, a man pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor for helping the women bury the fetus on his parents' land. He got probation.

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox.