by Kim Chandler and Mike Balsamo
A former Alabama prison officer who was on the run with a murder suspect was charged with helping to kill herself by shooting her on Monday, after officers searched for more than a week, officials said. Caught the pair. The man she eloped with surrendered.
The death of 56-year-old Vicky White deepens the mystery of why a respected prison officer would drop everything to help Casey White, 38, a hulking prisoner with a violent and horrifying history.
Officials said the two fugitives caught – after a manhunt through three states – crashed into their vehicle in Evansville, Indiana, when the US marshals were following them. Officials said Casey White left himself and Vicky White shot himself and was taken to hospital. Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockier said he died from his injuries.
Before Vicky White’s death, officers celebrated the fugitives’ fears.
“We found a dangerous man on the street today. He’s never going to see daylight again. It’s a good thing, not just for our community. It’s a good thing for our country,” said Lauderdale County Sheriff of Alabama Rick Singleton said.
The search began on April 29 when Vicky White, assistant director of corrections for prisons in Lauderdale County, allegedly helped engineer the escape to Casey White, who was awaiting trial in a capital murder case. Vicky White had told coworkers that she was taking the prisoner from prison to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation, but the two, who are not related, fled the area instead.
The car they took off was later abandoned in Tennessee, but the pair were not found until a tip on Sunday from the US Marshals that surveillance photos from the Evansville car wash showed a man It bears a resemblance to Casey White, a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck, said Marshall Service. The white is 6 feet, 9 inches (2.06 m) tall and weighs about 260 pounds (118 kg).
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding in Indiana said Monday that officers learned the couple had been seen near the sheriff’s office. He said that as soon as officers arrived, the couple fled in a vehicle and were chased by police. “The US marshals collided with him to try to end the chase,” he said. Casey White was injured in the accident, not very serious, and Vicky White then shot himself, causing “very serious” injuries, he said.
“We are lucky that no law enforcement was injured, no innocent civilians were injured, the chase was short in nature and we are both in custody,” Wedding said.
Casey White was serving a 75-year prison sentence for attempted murder and other charges at the time of his escape. He was awaiting trial for the stabbing of a 58-year-old woman during a theft in 2015. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The Marshall Service said federal and local law enforcement officials also learned that Casey White had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and her sister in 2015, saying that “he wanted the police to kill him.”
A warrant was issued on May 2 for Vicky Sue White accusing him of allowing or facilitating an escape in the first degree.
Prior to the announcement of his death, the Alabama sheriff said he expected to get answers about his actions from his once trusted prison staff, but admitted those answers could not come. “I had complete faith in Vicky White. She has been an exemplary employee. What in the world inspired him to do stunts like this? I don’t know I don’t know if we’ll ever know,” Singleton said.
Vicky White’s family members and colleagues said they were shocked by her involvement. Singleton said it appeared the plan had been in the works for some time. Prison inmates said the two had a special relationship and that he treated Casey White better than other inmates.
US Marshal Marty Keeley said that over the past several months, she bought a rifle and a shotgun and was also known to have a handgun.
He sold his home for about half the market value and bought a 2007 orange Ford Edge that he kept in a shopping center without a license plate.
“This escape was clearly planned and calculated. It took a lot of preparation. They had a lot of resources, cash, vehicles,” Singleton said.
The escape occurred when Vicky White said it would be his last day at work. She told coworkers that Casey White had a mental health evaluation on the courthouse, but none were scheduled. He was not accompanied by another officer, who was against the prison policy.
The video showed the couple walking from prison to the shopping center, where they picked up Ford and left, Singleton said. His flight was not traced for a long time.
Investigators believe the pickup truck was stolen at the Casey White Car Wash in Tennessee and then drove about 175 miles (280 kilometers) to Evansville, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. Officials could not discuss the details of the investigation publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writer Ken Kusmer contributed from Indianapolis.