Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Pastor Confessed to Murder of Rebekah Gay

John D. White

John D. White

Michigan pastor John D. White, 55, is an ex con and has been the pastor at the 14-member Christ Community Fellowship church for three years. He is accused of beating and strangling his Mount Pleasant neighbor, Rebekah Gay, the daughter of his fiancée, to fulfill his fantasy of having sex with her corpse. He reportedly confessed to killing Gay, 24, in her rural home on October 31, 2012, hiding her body in the woods, and returning to her trailer to dress Gay’s son, 3, in a Halloween costume. The church was apparently aware of White’s criminal past, and felt that after serving 12 years for the 1981 murder of a Kalamazoo County woman, 26, and probation for choking and stabbing a young Battle Creek woman, that he was a reformed man. Donna Houghton, 76, a fellow parishioner who had a hand in White’s hiring, told reporters, “He was absolutely contrite. 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.”

White and Gay lived in the same trailer park, and were friendly enough that White often watched her son. White, who was a suspect early on, has apparently confessed to having beating Gay to death with a mallet and strangled her with a zip tie in preparation for living out his sexual fantasy of sex with her dead body. He has said that he does not remember whether or not he carried out that fantasy. White led police to her body and was arrested. White was held without bond and arraigned on November 1 on charges of first-degree murder.

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