MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (WOOD) - The son of the Mount Pleasant pastor accused of killing young mother Rebekah Gay on Halloween Day told Target 8 he wouldn't be surprised if his father is a serial killer.
John White, 55, now faces murder charges in the Oct. 31 death of 24-year-old Rebekah Gay. Gay's naked body was found in a wooded ditch about a half-mile from her home the day after she was killed. She had been beaten over the head with a rubber mallet and strangled with a zip tie. Authorities say White confessed to killing her to live out a sexual fantasy.
John White's son Gabriel White spoke with Target 8 Friday about his father's violent past and what he called a split personality. Sometimes his father was John White, the pastor who helped his neighbors, Gabriel said. And sometimes, he said, his dad was a man named Jimmy, who was more aggressive.
"John was the good guy and Jimmy was the bad guy," Gabriel said.
Gabriel told Target 8 he doesn't know if it was John or Jimmy who killed Gay.
"I don't know. I think he had a mental snap," Gabriel.
But it's clear, Gabriel said, that something is wrong with his father:
"He knew that he was mentally sick, but he refused to engage it and tell people about it, accept help for it," said Gabriel.
At 17, Gabriel is the youngest of three children born to White and his ex-wife. He told Target 8 he learned about his father through stories told to him by his mother.
John White served two years in prison for stabbing a 17-year-old neighbor girl 15 times in 1980. Though critically injured, she survived. At the time of the stabbing, White was already married to Gabriel's mother.
That victim, now a mother and grandmother, recently told target 8 that White's then-wife put a sheet over her head as she cried for help. But the mother told Gabriel differently.
"She put it over her body to keep her warm, to keep her from dying, to keep the warmth in her body," said Gabriel. "If it wasn't for my mom, that woman would be dead. My mom saved her life."
Then White was locked up in 1995 after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 1994 death of Vicky Sue Wall, with whom he was having an affair in Kalamazoo County.
Gabriel was born four days after his father's arrest. White and his ex-wife divorced in 1996. Gabriel visited his father prison over the next dozen years or so.
"You can't really get to know somebody in a prison cell," Gabriel said.
John White was released in 2007 after serving his maximum sentence. Gabriel lived with his dad off and on in recent years at his mobile home near Mount Pleasant, only a few doors down from Rebekah Gay's mobile home.
He got to know his dad's fiancee and her daughter Rebekah Gay.
"She was a sweetheart," said Gabriel. "She didn't deserve that at all."
Gabriel said he had hoped his father had changed:
"I was hoping. There were signs, but being a son, you try to ignore it."
He found books at his father's home that a pastor should not have.
"Just books that you'd never want to see, like cult books," said Gabriel.
He wouldn't be surprised, he said, if his dad is a serial killer.
"He was a truck driver. What a truck driver does is ship things, then they have their side life. Nobody really knows what that is," said Gabriel.
The Isabella County Sheriff said any questions about split personalities will be addressed as part of a psychological exam ordered Thursday for White.
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