Pastor charged with killing fiancee's daughter

As police frantically worked to figure out how his fiancée's 24-year-old daughter had vanished, a Michigan pastor who had turned to God to shed his violent past went to his flock with a request: pray for her.
AP Wire
Nov 3, 2012


But all along, authorities say, he knew the sordid truth about where the young mother was.

The pastor, ex-convict John D. White, later confessed to killing Rebekah Gay to fulfill a fantasy of necrophilia, police said Friday. White drank four or five beers before going to the woman's mobile home and repeatedly striking her head with a mallet and strangling her with a zip tie, according to court documents.

Police said White stripped her dead body but does not remember if he carried out his sexual fantasy. After dumping the body early Wednesday, he returned to Gay's home and dressed her 3-year-old son in his Halloween costume, then later dropped him off with the boy's father.

"He kept saying he's a bad person, he's a pastor, he felt bad for the people in his church. ... I don't recall him bring real remorseful at all with regard to the victim or anything else," Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski told The Associated Press.

"He just basically said he was attracted to her, thought she was a very cute girl. It's a crazy, tragic situation," the sheriff added.

The case shocked the pastor's roughly 14-member congregation and raised questions about how a man who had found religion after a criminal past could return to his dark past.

White was in jail without bond Friday, a day after he was charged with first-degree murder in Gay's death in a rural area in Isabella County, 85 miles northwest of Lansing. The 55-year-old has asked for a court-appointed attorney.

White was engaged to Gay's mother and regularly watched her young son while she worked, said Donna Houghton, a church elder who had a role in hiring White three years ago to be pastor at Christ Community Fellowship. Church members, she said, were "absolutely floored" by the allegations.

"I protested his innocence until I had the absolute news that he confessed. Then he had no leg to stand on," she told the AP.

Before his arrest Thursday, White called Houghton to ask that she contact other church members and start a prayer chain for Gay, who still was missing at the time.

"He was pretty shook up. He said the police were giving him a hard time," Houghton said.

White confessed that day after being told the woman's body was likely to deteriorate in the cold, wet weather, Mioduszewski said. He said his fantasy had been fueled by pornographic videos.

Houghton said the congregation was aware of White's criminal past when he joined the church. He was released from prison in 2007, after serving nearly 12 years for manslaughter in the death of a 26-year-old woman in Kalamazoo County, according to the Michigan Corrections Department.

He had previously been sentenced to probation for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl in 1981.

"He was absolutely contrite," said Houghton, 76. "All kinds of people turn around and meet the Lord and they are a different person. He was doing a lot of good in the community. ... He was doing a lot of good and Satan did not want him doing good and Satan got to him."

She said White got on her roof and cleaned her neglected gutters last week, a chore that inspired his Sunday talk. She recalled him saying during that sermon that "we need to check closely the seeds we sprout in ourselves. Nothing can be hidden from God."

At the trailer park on Friday, pictures of pumpkins and other Halloween decorations were still on Gay's home. Park resident Matt Brown said White regularly cut through his yard to visit Gay's trailer that was one street away.

Brown, 21, said White seemed to have scratches on his face when he told residents Wednesday that Gay was missing and that her car had been found outside a bar.

"It looked like he was in a struggle," Brown recalled.

Charles Kenworthy, another resident of the park about 11 miles west of Mount Pleasant, said the killing so close was "just scary."

"I would think they'd want to look into different people and their background before they let somebody live here," the 53-year-old said.



He can go to hell and we should help him on his way. He confessed, due process...bye!


Isn't there a 3 strike rule in this state? This P.O.S. would certainly qualify if there was. I've never understood why anyone would think a sick %$&^% like this guy could be rehabilitated while incarcerated with more of his own kind.


OFF WITH HIS HEAD! please bring back the death penalty. There is no worry for anyone wanting to kill someone in this state. They get free government care for life...3 meals a day, gym time, doctor visits, library, dentistry, room & board. Bring back the guillotine and do the deed publicly. That might make them think twice about committing that crime. BTW, there is no hell or heaven, just life & death.


Don't care what you believe is after this experience, this wart needs to be removed.


True that.


Agreed. Bring back the death penalty to Michigan. You will see a drop in the murder rate just like we've seen a drop in most crimes since our permit to carry laws were passed. Don't confuse manipulators of a religion with the religion itself. Compasonate religions are the last frontier for a civil society. Look what degenerate liberal idiology has done to this country over the last 50 years. (ie) Hollywood, Acedemia, Entitlements, etc...yet, America is still a beacon of hope for the world because overall, it is still the greatest country God has ever given mankind. If you ever have witnessed a birth of a child, stood ontop of a mountain, beat a terminal disease, been in combat and survived, or sat in a treestand and watch the morning wake up, I don't know how you can say there is no God or Heaven. Life & Death is not an accident.


ahhh, you forgot...or been in prison. people sure find him there! lol


Why is this man still alive? This isn't the first time he has done this. Am I reading this correctly? He has killed twice already, and he is out on probation. He should have been done away with after the first time. But hey let's rehabilitate did that work out for you? He needs to be put down now like a lame horse. He has and never will be rehabilitated. So he has pulled off a hat trick of murders. Looks like our justice system worked out well, for him anyway. Not for these innocent women. The state needs to be held liable for letting a man like this walk around in society. Then we have the ACLU suing counties because they are not treating their prisoners fairly. DUH.....look what you get when you treat prisoners with white gloves. Makes me sick to my stomach. Wonder how her mother feels? After-all she was going to marry this whack job. Either she didn't know of his past, or she had her blinders on like a horse pulling a carriage down the road. Explain that one to your grandson when he asks where is mommy.


You're are right @43 N....or in prison. lol Actually, many have indeed found God in prison and when released, have become productive citizens again in society.


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