Sicily Island native Daniel White was found guilty March 12 of second degree murder in the gruesome 2014 slaying of 29-year-old Gwendolyn Dee McIntosh of Sterlington.
A Catahoula Parish jury, after deliberating for an hour, returned the unanimous guilty verdict to end the 11-day trial that began with jury selection on Feb. 25.
District Attorney Brad Burget, with help from Assistant District Attorney Austin Lipsey, called 32 witnesses and presented more than 1,000 exhibits in the longest trial in Burget’s career as DA.
Judge John Reeves presided.
Burget outlined the case to jurors in all its gory details, revealing how White murdered McIntosh by choking and stomping her to death and later burning her body in an oil drum on a cornfield turn row north of Sicily Island before later attempting to discard evidence.
The DA also described how 35-year-old Leah Pontiff assisted White in attempting to cover up the murder.
Pontiff had previously pled guilty to manslaughter in the case and is awaiting sentencing. White will be sentenced on April 4.
White, age 42, and the victim, Gwen McIntosh, had two children together and also worked together – she was a prostitute and White was her pimp. White advertised his pimping business on an escort service website called, “Backpage,” which no longer exists.
Throughout the trial Burget described Daniel White as a drug dealer and master manipulator, who “thinks he is smarter than everybody else.” The DA said White had the ability to convince a woman to sell her body for his profit.
After the trial, Burget said he appreciated jurors taking the time to serve in such a difficult trial and he urged all citizens to do their part when they are called for jury duty.
Each citizen has a role in justice, he said.
“The victim, Miss McIntosh, may not have been in the best professional but her life mattered,” he said. “It mattered to law enforcement. It mattered to the DA’s office. We all wanted justice for Miss McIntosh and for her family. And we all thank the jury for delivering justice.”
Burget said White first met Leah Pontiff while she was on work release and employed at a restaurant in Monroe in 2014 where White was also employed. Pontiff had previously served time in a correctional facility in Rayville for a crime she committed in Terrebonne Parish.
Burget said during the time White and Pontiff first met, White was having “ongoing domestic issues” with Gwen McIntosh. On Father’s Day, June 15, 2014, White lured McIntosh to Sicily Island, according to Burget. Pontiff accompanied her.
Meeting up in Sicily Island, the three went to Ferriday and purchased alcohol. White also provided the two women with drugs, Burget said.
After 10 p.m., they traveled along Loop Road north of Sicily Island in White’s Cadillac. White stopped the car. At that point, White dragged McIntosh out of the car and choked her and stomped her until she died.
Burget said there was no clear reason as to why White wanted McIntosh dead.
Afterward, White and Pontiff went to a secluded trailer where McIntosh’s white Toyota had been parked. They placed her body in the trunk. White and Pontiff also retrieved a 55-gallon drum, a shovel, two tires and a gas card. The use of the gas card from Delta Fuel became a key piece of evidence.
Burget said White got the card from Maurice Humphries. The card belonged to Humphries’ mother, who used it in her job as a driver for the Sicily Island Medical Center.
White and Pontiff then drove the Toyota into a cornfield off Ditto Road near the Franklin Parish line.
They placed McIntosh’s body in the barrel and the tires on top dousing them with gasoline and then ignited the contents in the barrel.
Burget said White and McIntosh spent two hours checking on the fire.
Reconstructing the night’s events came not only from Pontiff’s confessions, but also from forensic investigations of the cell phones used by White and Pontiff. FBI Special Agent Chuck Williams analyzed phone records and prepared an 18-page report with slides showing cell tower locations. In a separate report, State Police Sgt. Tim Ryan listed every phone call and text logged in chronological order.
Burget said that at 3:32 a.m., White and Pontiff checked into the Chase Motel south of Winnsboro before returning to the cornfield turn row where McIntosh’s remains were burning in the 55-gallon drum.
The fire was extinguished with water and McIntosh’s remains emptied onto the ground.
Pontiff told police White used the shovel to separate the skull from the spine and dug a shallow grave to disposed of the rest of the charred remains.
She said they drove to several locations disposing of the skull, spinal column and shovel. Although Pontiff later led law enforcement officers to the sites where the items were disposed, only the shovel was recovered.
Later White instructed Pontiff to get rid of McIntosh’s Toyota and clothing, which White had put in plastic bags.
Burget said White also gave Pontiff crystal meth before sending her on her way.
She drove the Toyota to her ex-boyfriend’s home in Terrebonne Parish where the plastic bags with the clothing were placed under the house. Later, she confessed to her boyfriend that she had been involved in a murder in which a girl had been killed and her body parts burned in a barrel. The boyfriend told Pontiff’s mother, who notified police. After telling several different stories to law enforcement officers, Pontiff eventually confessed.
The victim’s mother, Angela McIntosh, had reported her daughter missing to the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office nine days after Gwen McIntosh had gone missing.
Law enforcement agencies in Ouachita and Terrebonne later made the connections and notified the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office of the murder. CPSO launched an investigation along with the Louisiana State Police.
The LSU FACES Lab, which identifies human remains, gathered evidence at the burn site. That evidence was sent to the state crime lab.
Burget said a number of items were found in the vehicles that were critical to proving the crime.
The victim’s blood was found on the bottom of the shoes worn by White on the night of the murder, a significant DNA finding since all of McIntosh’s blood and organs had been consumed in the fire.
Burget said White was caught in several lies when he opted to testify before the jury, including his claim that the shoes were not his. More critical, however, was his explanation of his whereabouts that night, claiming he left Sicily Island at midnight but phone records proved he did not. But Burget said cell phone and cell tower records pinpointed the movements of both White and Pontiff through their individual cell phone accounts.
Defense attorney Martin Reagan represented White.
Burget expressed his appreciation to Catahoula Parish Sheriff Toney Edwards and former sheriff James Glenn Kelly for “a tremendous job and long hours. I also appreciate the sheriff’s office for providing the right amount of security for the trial. This was a heinous crime and there was a fear that something could happen.”
He also thanked the FBI, the Louisiana State Police, the LSU FACES lab, and law enforcement in Ouachita and Terrebonne parishes.
“Also there were a lot of witnesses called in this state and we are grateful to all of them,” Burget said.