Convicted murderer John Douglas White was found dead in his cell Wednesday at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.
Officials said White hung himself at 4:17 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 4:38 a.m.
“This morning (the) staff found prisoner John White hanging in a suicide attempt,” Michigan Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Russ Marlan said. “We made every attempt to revive him, but were unsuccessful.”
Marlan said White died of asphyxiation and was in a “level four, close-custody” facility, one step beneath maximum security. The felon was put there due to the length of his sentence.
White had served about four months of his 56-to-85-year sentence at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia.
According to Marlan, White would not be eligible for parole until 2069. The 55-year-old would be 111 years old by the time his release was made possible.
Marlan said the incident is being investigated by Michigan State Police, and could not comment as to the weapon used in White’s hanging.
The MDOC reported seven suicides in 2012 across the state prison system, with White’s death making it another seven in 2013, Marlan said.
“Our staff does a good job monitoring inmates who may be suicidal,” he said.
White, 55, was being held by the Michigan Department of Corrections after pleading guilty last April to the murder of Rebecca Jane Gay October 2012 at her Broomfield Township mobile home.
He was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to a maximum of 85 years in prison.
As a self-described pastor, White was engaged to Gay’s mother and often babysat Conway, Rebekah’s three-year-old son.
After confessing to the murder, White blamed it on a two-week sexual fantasy he had to kill Gay and have sex with her dead body. He told the police he did not remember carrying out his fantasy, because he drank four or five beers before going to Gay’s home.
Gay’s body was discovered in a stand of pine trees on Coldwater Road, and the mallet and bloody towels used in the murder were discovered off of Pickard Road, near Woodruff Road.
According to the Associated Press, White has two prior convictions, one for manslaughter in Kalamazoo County and another for attacking a young woman in Calhoun County. He was released from prison in 2008.