Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unholy Homicide, Part One

A Shady Background

Canning was born on June 2, 1936, in Brooks, Maine.  According to a December 13, 2004, A&E television program, Canning met his wife Barbara while in high school. In 1958 he graduated from the Zion Bible Institute in Rhode Island.  Canning and his wife eventually had two children together and took to the road preaching up and down the East coast.  During the late 1960s, Canning began preaching at a Pentecostal church in Granby, Connecticut.  Before long he started building his own congregation, but quickly left town when several parishioners accused him of sexually harassing their children.

Photo: John Canning, younger
John Canning, younger

After leaving Connecticut, the Cannings traveled to Auburn, Maine.  Not long after their arrival, Reverend Canning became pastor of another Pentecostal church.  However, the family was soon on the road again when allegations began to surface that Canning was misusing church funds for his own benefit.  Following his latest fiasco, Reverend Canning settled in Canton, Maine, where he eventually raised enough money to construct his own church.  Nonetheless, rumors that he propositioned young boys once again began to circulate and he was also suspected of stealing at least $10,000 in church funds. 

Photo: The Canning Church
The Canning Church

From Maine Canning and his family moved to Sebring, Florida, where the reverend eventually founded his own church in 1987, which he named the Fountain of Life.  During this time, Canning befriended Leo and Hazel.  The couple was not yet married at the time and, interestingly enough, Reverend Canning later wed them during a small church ceremony.

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