Dad sentenced to death for raping and killing his daughter in 22-hour ordeal

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A jury in North Carolina took just three hours to decide that a father deserved the death penalty after murdering his own daughter after subjecting her to 22 hours of vile torture.

Joshua Burgess, 35, was found guilty of strangling 15-year-old Zaria Burgess before cutting her throat in August 2019 at his home in Monroe, North Carolina.

Burgess was also convicted of one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offence, and one count of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor, according to a statement from the Union County District Attorney's Office.

The statement continued: ”This was truly an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel killing of an innocent child. This case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. We continue to grieve with and pray for Zaria's mother”.

Zaria, who lived with her mother, had been staying with Burgess for the weekend.

Burgess, who was described by Sheriff Eddie Cathey as "the essence of evil”, walked into the Union County Sheriff's Office after the killing and made a full confession, telling deputies the girl's body was still at his house.

“Once the dispatcher began inquiring about his name and searching for possible arrest warrants, Burgess told her she would not find his name and that he had just killed someone,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release at the time.

“Burgess gave further details including the address where the victim was located as well as the victim’s identity.”

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While Burgess’s motive remains unclear, investigating officers say the primary motives for the killing appeared to be lust and control.

Burgess "stole Zaria from her friends, family and local community," Sheriff Cathey said.

"While we know Zaria is forever gone to us, we hope that today's verdict helps to bring some closure to Zaria's family and friends, and we will continue to keep them in our prayers each day."

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website,

  • Murder

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