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Minister Convicted In Sex Slaying Found Hanged In Cell

IONIA (WWJ/AP) - The former minister of a small, central Michigan church who allegedly told police he killed his fiancée's 24-year-old daughter to fulfill a fantasy of having sex with a dead body hanged himself in his prison cell, authorities said Wednesday.

John D. White, who was serving a sentence of at least 56 years in prison at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia, was pronounced dead at 4:38 a.m. after efforts to resuscitate him failed. White, 56, apparently hanged himself, Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan told the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant.

White was minister of the tiny Christ Community Fellowship church in Isabella County's Deerfield Township, about 120 miles northwest of Detroit. He pleaded guilty in March to second-degree murder in the slaying of his fiancée's daughter, Rebekah Gay.

Police say White, a 55-year-old ex-convict, confessed to killing Gay as part of a sexual fantasy. According to an affidavit that was used in his arrest warrant, White admitted that for two weeks he thought about killing Gay and having sex with her dead body.

White told investigators he went to Gay's trailer about 2 a.m. on Oct. 31 after drinking about four or five beers, struck her head repeatedly with a mallet, then strangled her with a zip tie. He said he stripped her body but did not remember carrying out a sex act.

Rebekah Gay

After using his pickup truck to move Gay's body, the mallet and bloody towels, White returned to her trailer where he dressed Gay's 3-year-old son in his Halloween costume and took him to an area Meijer store to be picked up by his father, a Midland resident, according to police.

Authorities say White led them to Gay's body, which was found half a mile from her home in Isabella County's Broomfield Township, after they told him her body was likely to deteriorate in the cold, wet weather.

Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski said White had known Gay for some time and regularly watched her son while she worked, but was not a close friend. Mioduszewski said Gay's son was home during the killing, but was unharmed.

Michelle Anderson Earl, who was a neighbor of White's, called him "a true coward," after learning of his death.

"He took the life of a daughter, mother, sister and friend to many," Earl told the Morning Sun. "Now he will serve his true punishment, the one he deserves. Rot in hell, John White."

White had a criminal past when he joined Christ Community Fellowship church. He was released from prison in 2007 after serving nearly 12 years for manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old Vicky S. Wall in Kalamazoo County. He had previously been sentenced to probation for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl in 1981.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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