Facebook surrenders private chats between NE mom, teen daughter charged after illegal at-home abortion

Facebook reportedly turned over chats between a Nebraska mother and her 17-year-old daughter which discussed the teenager’s at-home abortion and their plan to “burn the evidence,” according to court documents.

(Video Credit: NBC Bay Area)

An investigation of an illegal abortion taking place was undertaken in April before Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. Police received reports that Jessica Burgess, 41, obtained and administered abortion pills to her daughter, Celeste Burgess, to terminate her pregnancy.

The teen was 23 weeks along in her pregnancy when it was terminated which is against state law. After the child was born stillborn, they allegedly burned and buried it.

Turning over data requested by authorities is nothing new for Facebook’s parent company Meta.

Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told the Daily Mail that Meta “regularly turns over user information that has been requested by US law enforcement.”

Facebook asserted that “nothing in the valid warrants received from local law enforcement mentioned abortion” and instead pointed to officials looking into the “case of a stillborn baby who was burned and buried.”

A search warrant was given to Meta in June that requested everything the company had on the Burgesses according to an affidavit. Despite Facebook’s claim, the warrant reportedly stated that Norfolk Police Detective Ben McBride was investigating an alleged abortion after the Burgess family claimed Celeste had unexpectedly “given birth prematurely supposedly to a stillborn child.”

The teenager “enacted the help of her mother, Jessica Burgess, and the two of them buried the child together,” the affidavit charged. The mother and daughter then reportedly told others “they needed to dig the child’s body up and then burn it.”

Police exhumed the fetus. The document stated that the “exact cause [of death] was unknown but the lungs didn’t indicate they’d ever contained any air.”

An autopsy concluded that the “cause of death was undetermined” and the findings were “consistent with the fetus being stillborn.”

The report indicated that “the placement of the fetus into a plastic bag raises the possibility of asphyxia due to suffocation” and the fetus showed signs of “thermal injuries.”

McBride’s justification for getting the information from Facebook was that it was needed to determine “whether the baby was stillborn or asphyxiated.”


“Are we starting it today?” Celeste asked her mother.

“We can if u want the one will stop the hormones,” the mother replied.

“Ya the 1 pill stops the hormones an rehn [sic] u gotta wait 24 HR 2 take the other,” her mother explained.

“Ok,” Celeste responded and then added, “Remember we burn the evidence.”

The Facebook evidence was evidently used to get a second search warrant resulting in the confiscation of 13 laptops, smartphones, and 24 gigabytes of data that included pictures, messages, and web browsing history.

The mother has been charged in Madison County with performing or attempting an abortion greater than 20 weeks, performing an abortion when not a licensed doctor, removing/concealing/abandoning a dead human body, concealing the death of another person, and false reporting, according to CBS14.

Celeste will be tried as an adult and was hit with charges that include removing/concealing/abandoning a dead human body, concealing the death of another person, and false reporting. Both of them have pleaded not guilty.

A third individual, 22-year-old Tanner Barnhill, has been charged with attempting to conceal the death of another person for allegedly helping the Burgesses bury the aborted fetus, according to the New York Post.

(Video Credit: KMTV 3 News Now)

The mother was released from jail on June 27 after posting a $10,000 bond according to NTV. She is scheduled to appear in court on September 2.

The daughter was released on July 21 after posting a $20,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on August 29.

Nebraska currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks.

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