Family stunned late daughter was living with sex offender

Updated: Aug. 1, 2018 at 7:00 PM CDT
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GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - After a missing woman's body was found, the victim's family was stunned to learn that she was living with a sex offender.

Felisha Pearson, 28, disappeared from a Longview motel three weekends ago. Her body was found last Tuesday in Longview by investigators.

Pearson's family is struggling now, trying to understand how she could have fallen in with a man who is a registered sex offender.

"How in the world did she get in contact with somebody like that? She couldn't have known he had all this going on," said Felisha's ex-husband Joseph Pearson.

An arrest warrant affidavit shows Joseph Wayne Burnette and Pearson lived together, eventually residing at the Contessa Inn.

After her death, Burnette was arrested for failure to register as a sex offender with a previous conviction, and indecent exposure.

Pearson's mother confronted Burnette at the hotel about her daughter, with Burnette telling her only that Pearson had left and not returned.

"The main focus is justice, and pretty much finding out why," Mr. Pearson says.

Gregg County Sheriff's Office in 2006 identified Burnette as a person of interest in the murder of an unidentified woman found burned near Fritz-Swanson Road. Burnette had also served a 10-year prison sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.

Pearson says his daughters told him of frightening incidents they had when Felisha brought them in contact with Burnette.

"My oldest, she stated that this dude had choked Felisha before. We had explained that their mother was gone. The first thing she said was 'he did it,'" Pearson says.

Pearson's body was found in a wooded area off of Birdsong Street in Longview.

Joseph Pearson wants to know how a man who he says was clearly dangerous got connected to his ex-wife.

"It doesn't add up. The fail to register warrant wasn't signed until she turned up missing. If they had did something, she probably would still be alive," said Mr. Pearson.

Joseph Burnette was arrested on July 26 for failure to register as a sex offender with previous conviction.

Burnette was never charged in the 2006 case, and has not been charged in the Pearson case.

He is currently in the Gregg County Jail on $500,000 bond.
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