A northeast Nebraska woman has been charged multiple felonies for allegedly helping her teenage daughter have an abortion and then burn and bury the remains.
41-year-old Jessica Burgess of Norfolk 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.
Her daughter, now 18 but 17 at the time of the incident, is also charged as an adult with prohibited acts related to human skeletal remains, concealing the death of another person, and providing false information.
Burgess is free on $10,000 with a court appearance scheduled in early September and a trial date in October. Her daughter is free on a $20,000 bond will appear in court at the end of this month and stand trial in November.
The charges came after investigators uncovered Facebook messages in which the mother and daughter discussed using medication to end the approximately 24-week pregnancy. Nebraska law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.
Madison County Attorney Joseph Smith says he’s never had a case involving an illegal abortion in his 32 years as a prosecutor.
According to court documents, the teen said she “unexpectedly gave birth” at home in the bathtub on April 22 when she was about 7 months pregnant and asked her mother to help her bury the remains.
The girl said they were joined by a third person and tried to burn the body prior to the burial north of Norfolk. An autopsy performed on the body of the fetus revealed its lungs never contained air, which could mean a stillbirth or the fetus suffocated.
A search warrant for messages on her Facebook account between Burgess and her daughter told a different story. Court documents show the two discussed pills Burgess had obtained online for her daughter to induce a miscarriage.
The messages specified she needed to take one pill, 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 her take the first pill, then say she couldn’t wait to get the “thing” out of her body.