MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/AP) - A mid-Michigan pastor charged with killing a young woman in her trailer as part of a sexual fantasy has been declared competent to stand trial.
The determination involving 55-year-old John D. White was made Wednesday by Isabella County Judge William T. Ervin following a psychiatric exam.
A prosecutor plans to meet next week with defense lawyer Gordon Bloem to schedule when White will face a hearing to determine whether the case goes to trial.
White is an ex-convict who settled outside Mount Pleasant and became pastor of a tiny church, Christ Community Fellowship. Police say he confessed to killing 24-year-old Rebekah 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.
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.
Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski told reporters that White had known Gay for some time and regularly watched her son while she worked, but was not a close friend. Gay’s son was home at the time his mother was killed, Mioduszewski said, but was unharmed.
Donna Houghton, who had a role in hiring White at Christ Community Fellowship, said White had planned to marry Gay’s mother, who regularly attended his Sunday sermons. She also said she spoke to White before he was arrested, when he allegedly called her to ask that she contact other church members and start a prayer chain for Gay, who still was missing at the time.
White 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, according to the state Corrections Department. White also was sentenced to probation for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl in 1981.
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