Ed. Note This is the second of our two-part series about the life and death of Renee White. You can find Part 1 below:
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — It’s been 40 years since Renee White was stabbed to death in the Lynn Haven insurance officer where she worked.
Renee’s husband, Randy White, wants people to remember her as more than a murder victim.
“My most memorable thing about her is she always had that smile,” he said. “And she was always happy, I never saw her when she wasn’t smiling, or being receptive to anybody that came around her. she was a really outgoing individual. really good, good person.”
Randy White lives with the memories of his wife Renee, both happy and tragic. In the nearly 8 years they were married, Randy and Renee were deeply in love and truly happy.
That changed on June 14th, 1982, when 24-year old Kayle Barrington Bates, a delivery truck driver from Tallahassee, tried to rape Renee in the Lynn Haven insurance office where she worked.
She fought back, and Bates stabbed her to death, then dumped her body in the woods behind the office off Highway 77.
He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. He’s been sitting on death row ever since.
“And for him to take her life and for him to have life is really difficult to live with,” White said. “I’m not one of those people that want to go out you know, ‘Let’s kill this guy.’ It’s the fact that the sentence was handed down from the state and he did take a life and I think that he should have to pay with his life also.”
“And, I believe we either have to have a death penalty or don’t have a death penalty. but this 40-year grace period, that’s just unacceptable,” he said.
Randy White is not alone in his frustrations.
“I don’t understand,” said former Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen. “We talk about how we have the best system in the world. Well, our system may be the best, but it’s still not that good.”
McKeithen was the lead investigator on Renee’s case.
In a very real sense, Renee was not Bate’s only victim that day.
“It put me in a real bad place for probably 2-or-3 years after she was murdered,” White recalled. “I could not mentally get myself back together. I became a hermit, I wouldn’t go out of the house. I stayed to myself, I wouldn’t make friends, I was even scared to make friends because I didn’t want to have those same feelings I felt when I lost her.”
White got help some help and was able to resume his life. He moved away from bay county for more than a decade. But relationships were still difficult.
“I stay single for 14 years. I swore to myself I’d never remarry, I did not want to have to ever go through that and those feelings again,” White said.
Randy did meet someone and remarried. He and his wife, Jennifer have been together for years. Still, she’s supportive of the feelings he still has for Renee.
Still, she’s supportive of the feelings he still has for Renee.
“I’ve had people say, ‘you know, you should be passed that.’ what people need to understand, I did not divorce Renee,” White said. “We were together, I did not quit loving Renee.”
White said his main purpose for talking about the tragedy is to keep Renee’s memory alive. But he also wants people to understand what life is like when your life is violently and senselessly ripped away from you.
“She was a human being like all of us and even though she is not with us anymore, there’s other people that it still affects,” White said. “And even though I go on in my life, I never get passed that part of my life. And I never will.”
In January, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Bates’ most recent appeal of his death sentence. His attorneys are now taking their appeals to the federal courts.