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On December 2, 2011, the holiday season took a horrific turn for one family when a woman brutally murdered her 67-year-old friend at her home in Jacksonville, Florida — and left her body on a bed hidden under a pile of Christmas presents.
Patty White, 40, of York, South Carolina, was arrested for allegedly beating and strangling Michele O’Dowd two days after the murder.
According to police, the motive was robbery. White stole two of O’Dowd’s debit cards following the murder and attempted to withdraw money from two ATMs near O’Dowd’s home. She was captured on surveillance footage at the ATMs, and after she was arrested, she admitted to police that she had committed the murder.
O’Dowd’s body was found by her twin brother, Phil Axt, covered with a towel and Christmas presents.
Axt reported that his sister’s home was ransacked. “There is nothing worse than when you walk inside and find your own sister brutally murdered over a stupid debit card,” he said.
Family members told police that White was a former roommate and family friend of O’Dowd’s, who had let White stay at her home when she had nowhere else to go. Police said that White was also an ex-girlfriend of the victim’s nephew, and was considered a family friend. They said White had returned to Florida to rob O’Dowd after staying with relatives in South Carolina.
“Whatever took place in that apartment went horribly wrong, and she ended up beating and killing her,” according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. White then returned to South Carolina, where she confessed to authorities after she was pulled over and arrested Saturday.
Axt said his aunt treated White as part of the family, gave her odd jobs to earn extra money, and even trusted her with her debit card PIN number to buy groceries.
In 2013, White was sentenced to 45 years behind bars for the murder.
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Main photo: Patty Michelle White [York County Sheriff’s Office]