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Reported Denial from Abducted Girls’ Dad

Crime

Sisters Jessica and Jennifer Burns were the center of an Amber Alert | Images by WFAA

The father of two little girls who were abducted by their grandmother has reportedly spoken out, saying he did not know anything about the incident, according to a woman claiming to be his girlfriend, Jessica McClelland.

Jennifer Burns, 6, and Jessica Burns, 9, were found safe Sunday night, according to McKinney police, after disappearing Thursday afternoon during a supervised visit with their father, who does not share custody. The visit was held at a CiCi’s Pizza restaurant near Central Expressway and Virginia Parkway just before 6 p.m.

McKinney police detectives made arrests in the case that same night.

Jame Burns, 60, their paternal grandmother, was taken into custody in Richardson and is facing two felony counts of kidnapping, police said. She is currently being held on bonds totaling $33,000, but her bond amount for the kidnapping charges has not been set yet.

The girls’ father, 34-year-old Justin Burns, was also allegedly involved in their abduction, according to McKinney Police Department Public Information Officer Carla Marion Reeves in a news conference Friday morning. He has been charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and is being held in the Collin County Jail on bonds totaling $100,000, Reeves told NBC 5 DFW.

Jessica McClelland told WFAA that she has dated Justin Burns, the father of the girls, off and on since August 2022.

“He emailed the CPS people requesting to have this visit at CiCi’s [Pizza] because of his birthday,” said McClelland of the lead-up to the incident.

It is not known or immediately clear how exactly the girls left the restaurant or where the case worker was at the time, but the father reportedly remains adamant he did not know what happened.

“He sticks to the fact that he didn’t know anything about it, and he was not any part of it. He said he had two more visits left, he thought he was going to get them back, so why would he do that?” said McClelland.

McClelland said she was in contact with Justin during the incident.

“I actually was texting [Justin Burns] when he was there during the visitation. He texted me, ‘My kids are missing, my kids are gone. Oh my gosh,'” McClelland claimed.

Both Justin and Jame Burns remain behind bars in the Collin County Jail. According to police, the pair worked in tandem to take the two girls during the supervised visit.

In 2021, Jame Burns was accused of criminal negligence, abandoning/endangering a child, and possession of a controlled substance of less than one gram. At the time of the alleged kidnappings, Jame Burns was out on a $3,000 bond, according to media reports from NBC 5.

“We would like to thank our community and our media partners for helping us get the word out about the Amber Alert,” McKinney police said in a statement.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

In 2020, 63% of all Amber Alerts issued were family abduction cases, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In 2022, there were 150 abductions in the city of Dallas. So far, in the first month of 2023, there have been eight.

However, according to The Dallas Morning News, the City of Dallas does not include all crimes that happen within the city limits in its data. City officials omit crimes in which law enforcement agencies other than the Dallas Police Department take the lead in the investigation, which distorts the reality of crime in Dallas.

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