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John D. White Michigan Pastor, Sentenced to 56 Years for Killing Fiancee's Daughter

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Apr 20, 2013 11:59 AM EDT

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The former minister of a small church in Michigan was sentenced to at least 56 years in prison for killing his fiancée's daughter, who was 24, to allegedly fulfill a fantasy of having sex with a corpse, according to the Associated Press.

John D. White, 55, was ordered to serve between 56 and 85 years in prison by Isabella County Chief Circuit Judge Paul Chamberlain, who saw no reason White should ever leave prison. White also had two previous convictions for attacking women.

White pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as a habitual third offender for the murder of Rebekah Gay last Halloween. 

He confessed to killing her in her Broomfield Township home because he wanted to have sex with her corpse, according to police.

White drank several beers before going to Gay's home, say prosecutors. Once there, he repeatedly struck her in the head with a mallet and strangled her with a zip tie while her three-year-old son was there. He then dumped her body in the woods, returned to Gay's home and dressed her son up in his Halloween costume before leaving the son with his father.

He also had undressed Gay's body, but said he could not recall whether he had sex with it, according to police.

Authorities searched for her body in a rural area in Isabella County, which is located approximately 85 miles northwest of Lansing. While authorities were looking, White asked his congregation to pray for her.

"For 20 excruciating hours we prayed that Rebekah" would come, said Sally Gay, Rebekah's mother when she spoke in court on Thursday. "She was not yours to take. How dare you."

Sally Gay then asked the court to show the man the same lack of mercy that he had shown her daughter. She called Rebekah the family's "heart and soul" and said her daughter's young son will suffer the most, growing up without a mother.

Church members were aware of White's criminal history. He had been released from prison in 2007 after serving almost 12 years for manslaughter and had also been sentenced fro choking and stabbing a 17-year-old girl in 1981.

White was engaged to Gay's mother and often looked after Gay's young son when she was at work, according to a member of the Christ Community Fellowship church in Deerfield Township, the small church White led. It is located about 60 miles north of Detroit.

Deborah Gay, Rebekah's sister, said her family wants to see a register created for violent offenders such as White, because her sister might have been alive is she had known about his violent past.

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