by Steven Ertelt
A Nebraska teenager who pleaded guilty to hiding her 29-week-old baby’s body after authorities say she and her mother aborted the late-term unborn baby and then burned and disposed of the body will only get 90 days in jail.
Celeste Burgess, 18, of Norfolk, Nebraska agreed to plead guilty to removing/concealing/abandoning a dead human body as part of a plea deal in Madison County District Court. As a result, two other charges against her were dropped.
Celeste Burgess could have spent up to two years in prison. Instead, she will spend just 90 days in jail and two years’ probation.
And her sentence may be reduced to closer to 50 days “due to the possibility of good time.”
Her mother, Jessica Burgess, 41, has pleaded guilty for her role.
“Under a plea agreement, 42-year-old Jessica Burgess admitted to tampering with human skeletal remains, false reporting, and providing an abortion after at least 20 weeks of gestation,” according to an AP report.
In April 2022, authorities said Celeste Burgess was almost 30 weeks pregnant when her mother, Jessica, allegedly obtained abortion pills and gave them to her daughter, killing the unborn baby. Then, the mother and daughter allegedly burned the aborted baby’s body and threw it in a field in Madison County, the local news reports.
At first, police said their investigation centered around the improper disposal of the baby’s body. However, after further investigation, they said they discovered evidence that Jessica Burgess bought abortion drugs from a company in India and gave them to her pregnant daughter, according to the Norfolk Daily News.
At the time, aborting an unborn baby was illegal after 20 weeks in Nebraska. A new state law that just went into effect prohibits abortions after 12 weeks; exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is at risk.
Initially, police said Jessica Burgess told officers that her daughter had gone into premature labor and gave birth to a stillborn baby. However, police said they later found records of conversations online between the mother and daughter about abortion drugs.
“(Celeste Burgess) talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body and reaffirms with (Jessica Burgess) that they will burn the evidence afterwards,” according to court records from the police investigation.
Other messages allegedly between the mother and daughter show a callous disregard for the unborn baby’s life even though the child already was basically fully formed and capable of surviving outside the womb. According to police, Celeste Burgess told her mother that she “can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body” and she was looking forward to wearing jeans again.
[Norfolk Police Detective Ben] McBride then applied and got a warrant to seize phones and laptops and compelled Facebook to turn over messages.
He found messages from Jessica Burgess indicating that she has obtained abortion pills for her daughter and giving her instructions on how to take them. She also wrote about a plan “to burn the evidence afterward.”
Celeste Burgess “talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body,” the detective wrote. “I will finally be able to wear jeans,” she says in another message.
It is not clear from reports what abortion drugs Jessica Burgess allegedly gave to her daughter, but the most common, mifepristone and misoprostol, are not recommended after 10 weeks of pregnancy – suggesting the woman allegedly put her daughter’s life at risk as well as her unborn grandchild’s.