Lincoln, NE – A Nebraska mother and daughter have been charged with performing an illegal abortion at home and burying the remains of the baby after police obtained proof in their Facebook messages.
Court documents said the investigation began in April after a friend of 17-year-old Celeste Burgess contacted the Madison County Attorney’s Office and reported she had seen the girl take a pill to abort a baby that was due in July, KOLN reported.
Medical records cited in court documents showed the teen was found to be 23-weeks pregnant as of this March.
Abortion is illegal in Nebraska after 20 weeks, Newsweek reported.
Celeste Burgess was seven months pregnant when she “unexpectedly gave birth” at home in the bathtub on April 22, KOLN reported.
Police said the girl’s mother, 41-year-old Jessica Burgess, helped her bury the remains north of Norfolk.
Court documents said Burgess and another person helped the teen try to burn the baby before they buried it, according to KOLN.
An autopsy performed on the remains showed the baby’s lungs never contained air.
Court documents said that could have been because the baby was stillborn or because it was suffocated, KOLN reported.
Investigators interviewed Burgess and her 17-year-old daughter after they were arrested, and the teen referred to Facebook messages between herself and her mother discussing the plan to terminate the pregnancy.
Police obtained search warrants for the messages from parent-company Meta and discovered that Burgess had discussed getting the pills for her pregnant 17 year old and instructions for how to take them, KOLN reported.
Court documents showed the messages specified the teen should take one pill to stop hormones and then wait 24 hours before taking a second pill.
The teenager wrote in Facebook messages that she couldn’t wait to get the “thing” out of her body and confirmed the plan to burn the evidence later with Burgess, KOLN reported.
Charging documents showed Burgess bought the medication to cause a miscarriage online and her daughter told investigators that her mother gave her the pills.
A search warrant served on the home resulted in piles of evidence, including laptops and phones, that police said in warrant applications would take “weeks or months” to sort through and review, KOLN reported.
Burgess was charged with improperly disposing of human skeletal remains, concealing the death of another person, providing false information, and performing an abortion without a license.
She was held in custody in lieu of a $10,000 bond, KOLN reported.
Burgess is scheduled for trial in October.
Her daughter was charged with prohibited acts related to human skeletal remains, concealing the death of another person, and providing false information.
The now-18 year old was initially charged as a juvenile but is now being charged as an adult, KOLN reported.
The teen was released on a $20,000 bond
She is due to appear in count in August and is scheduled for trial in November.
Facebook users were irate that the social media giant had turned over the messages that law enforcement had gotten warrants to obtain, Newsweek reported.
— Olivia Julianna 🗳 (@0liviajulianna) August 9, 2022
The hashtag #DeleteFacebook was trending on multiple social media platforms on Wednesday afternoon, the New York Post reported.
“Nothing in the valid warrants we received from local law enforcement in early June, prior to the Supreme Court decision, mentioned abortion,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone defended the company in a series of tweets.
“The warrants concerned charges related to a criminal investigation and court documents indicate that police at the time were investigating the case of a stillborn baby who was burned and buried, not a decision to have an abortion,” Stone added.