Man accused of killing local mom, 24, had extensive criminal his - WNEM TV 5

Accused killer had extensive criminal history

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John Douglas White John Douglas White

A central Michigan pastor accused of beating and strangling a neighbor to fulfill a sexual fantasy was engaged to the victim's mother.

Donna Houghton, a longtime member of Christ Community Fellowship, near Mount Pleasant, says 55-year-old John D. White knew his victim, 24-year-old Rebekah Gay, and regularly babysat her 3-year-old son while she worked. Houghton says White had planned to marry Gay's mother. He was arraigned Thursday on first-degree murder charges.

Police said in a news conference Thursday that White struck Gay over the head with a mallet until she passed out, where he then tied a zip-tie around her neck until she stopped breathing.

White then put her body and the towels he used to clean up the blood inside a large garbage bag before transporting her body to a ditch at the corner of Packard and Coldwater.  After White allegedly killed Gay, he dressed Gay's son in his Halloween costume before the boy's biological father picked him up.

Meanwhile, TV5 has learned much more about White's extensive criminal background.

The state Corrections Department says White was denied parole several times while serving a sentence for manslaughter in the death of a Kalamazoo County woman. He was released from prison in 2007 after nearly 12 years. In the early 1980s, White was accused of choking and stabbing a 17-year-old girl in Battle Creek. Department of Corrections spokesman, Russ Marlan, says White was sentenced to at least five years in prison but was granted probation and an early release.

Up until his arrest, White served as pastor of Christ Community Fellowship, a tiny congregation west of Mount Pleasant. Houghton says White had been pastor of the 14-member church since 2009.

A vigil will be held in Gay's honor Friday at 8 p.m. at Midland Bullock Creek High School located at 1420 Badour Road in Midland Township.

White is due back in court Thursday, Nov. 8.

Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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