A former minster from a small Michigan congregation was sentenced to serve 56 years in prison Friday for murdering his fiancée's 24-year-old daughter and committing acts of necrophilia.
55-year-old John D. White was sentenced to 56 to 85 years behind bars by Isabella County Chief Circuit Judge Paul Chamberlain, who stated that he saw no reason for White to ever leave prison.
White, who had twice been convicted for assaulting women, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder as a habitual third offender in the grisly slaying that claimed the life of 24-year-old Rebekah Gay last Halloween.
Police revealed that White confessed to killing Gay in her Broomfield Township home because he wanted to have sex with a dead body. During testimony from White he could not recall having sex with the corpse, but did admit that he had removed the deceased's clothes.
White was set to marry Gay's mother and regularly looked after her 3-year-old son while she was working, a member of church White led told the Associated Press. White oversaw the 14-member Christ Community Fellowship church in Deerfield Township, about 60 miles north of Detroit.
During the course of the trial, prosecutors stated that White consumed alcohol before going to Gay's home, where he used a mallet to hit her in the head several times. White then strangled her until she lost consciousness while her young son was still in the home.
Prosecutors then revealed that White moved her body to a location in a wooded area nearby and returned home to dress her son in his Halloween costume.
"For 20 excruciating hours we prayed that Rebekah would come home," Sally Gay, her mother, told White in court Thursday. "She was not yours to take. How dare you."
Church members have said they were aware of White's criminal past when he joined them. White was released from prison in 2007 after 12 years behind bars for manslaughter in the death of a 26-year-old woman in Kalamazoo County. He was also sentenced to probation for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl in 1981.