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Father Who Raped, Tortured, Murdered Teen Daughter Gets Death Sentence

They don’t get more heinous than this. A North Carolina father has been sentenced to die for the rape, torture, and murder of his own teenage daughter. 

In a case of justice well served, Joshua Lee Burgess will pay the ultimate price for his sickening crimes. Burgess, 35, was sentenced to die for the horrific rape and murder of his 15-year-old daughter, Zaria, in 2019. 

Besides the murder, Burgess was convicted of a slew of other charges in connection to his daughter’s brutal and undeserved death. Prosecutors said that on Aug. 18, 2019, for 22 harrowing hours, the killer psychologically and sexually tortured the girl at his Monroe, NC, home.

“This was truly an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel killing of an innocent child,” the Union County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “This case was emotionally taxing for everyone involved. We continue to grieve with and pray for Zaria’s mother.”

The bright 15-year-old Zaria had been living with her biological mother but was on a weekend visitation with her father on the day of the murder, local TV affiliate WBTV reported.

Later that day, Burgess entered a local police station of his own volition and confessed to cops the horrific acts he had committed. He told detectives they would find the girl’s body in his home.

It was said that even the most case-hardened homicide detectives were shocked by the depravity of the crime.

“It’s just evil,” Union County Sheriff Tony Underwood said. “I mean, murder is murder, but to kill your own flesh and blood like this, there’s just no way to explain it other than it’s just an evil crime.”

Burgess was convicted of one count of first-degree murder, one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sex offenses, and one count of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Besides getting top marks as a sophomore at Monroe High School, Zaria was also on the dance team and in the marching band. One teacher said the teen was “full of energy.”

Officially the “motive is unclear” for the murder, though some police sources have said the killer was a white supremacist. His daughter was biracial.