By KIM CHANDLER
A former Alabama jail official has died after shooting herself when she and the murder suspect she was accused of helping to escape were captured Monday in Indiana after more than a week on the run, according to officials.
The capture ended the manhunt through three states but did not resolve the mystery of why Vicky White, 56, a respected jail official, would help Casey White, 38, a hulking inmate with a violent and frightening history.
The two fugitives were caught in Evansville, Indiana, when U.S. Marshals pursued their vehicle and then crashed into it, authorities said. Casey White surrendered and Vicky White was taken to a hospital after shooting herself, authorities said. Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear said White died from her injuries.
“We got a dangerous man off the street today. He is never going to see the light of day again. That is a good thing, for not just our community. That’s a good thing for our country,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton of Alabama said.
The manhunt began April 29 when Vicky White, the assistant director of corrections for the jail in Lauderdale County, allegedly helped engineer the escape of Casey White, who was awaiting trial in a capital murder case. Vicky White had told co-workers she was taking the inmate from the jail for a mental health evaluation at the courthouse, but the two, who are not related, instead fled the area.
The car they took off in was later found abandoned in Tennessee, but there was no trace of the pair until U.S. Marshals received a tip Sunday that surveillance photos from an Evansville car wash showed a man who closely resembled Casey White exiting a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck, the Marshals Service said. White stands 6 feet, 9 inches (2.06 meters) tall and weighs about 260 pounds (118 kilograms).
On Monday, officials learned that the pair was spotted near the sheriff’s office, said Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding in Indiana. As officers arrived, the pair fled in a vehicle and led police on a pursuit, he said. U.S. Marshals collided with them “to try to end the pursuit,” he said. Casey White was injured, not too seriously, in the crash and Vicky White then shot herself, causing “very serious” injuries, he said.
“We’re lucky that no law enforcement was injured, no innocent civilians were injured, the pursuit was short in nature and we have both people 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 in the stabbing of a 58-year-old woman during a burglary in 2015. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
“We got a dangerous man off the street today. He is never going to see the light of day again. That is a good thing, for not just our community. That’s a good thing for our country,” Singleton said.
Federal and local law enforcement officials have also learned Casey White threatened to kill his former girlfriend and his sister in 2015 and said “that he wanted police to kill him,” the Marshals Service said.
A warrant was issued on May 2 for Vicky Sue White charging her with permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree.
Vicky White’s family members and co-workers said they were stunned by her involvement. Singleton said she had been an exemplary employee but, in hindsight, it appeared the plan had been in the works for some time. Jail inmates said the two had a special relationship and she gave Casey White better treatment than other inmates.
In the past several months, she bought a rifle and a shotgun and also was known to have a handgun, U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said.
She sold her house for about half of market value and bought a 2007 orange Ford Edge that she stashed at a shopping center without license plates.
“This escape was obviously well-planned and calculated. A lot of preparation went into this. They had plenty of resources, had cash, had vehicles,” Singleton said.
The escape happened on what Vicky White said was going to be her last day at work. She told co-workers that Casey White had a mental health evaluation at the courthouse, but none was scheduled. She did not have a second officer accompany them, which was against jail policy.
Video showed the pair went from the jail to the shopping center, where they picked up the Ford and left, Singleton said. Their flight was not discovered for much of the day.
Investigators believe the pickup truck Casey White had at the car wash was stolen in Tennessee and then driven about 175 miles (280 kilometers) to Evansville, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official could not discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writer Mike Balsamo contributed from Washington.