Fugitive Alabama prison official dead after police capture her and inmate she helped escape
Sheriff says Vicky White shot herself as police closed in on the pair
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 were not related.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said the two fugitives were caught near Evansville, Indiana, after U.S. Marshals pursued the Whites' pickup truck.
Casey White surrendered and Vicky White was taken to a hospital after shooting herself, authorities said. Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear said the jail official 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.
In Indiana, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said officials had learned that their vehicle was near the sheriff's office. As officers arrived, Casey and Vicky White fled in the 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 ensuing 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.
The two had been the target of a nationwide manhunt since 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 instead fled the area.
Casey White was serving a 75-year prison sentence for attempted murder and other charges at the time of his escape.
The truck was found Monday in Evansville, Indiana, after U.S. Marshals received a tip Sunday that the 2006 Ford F-150 pickup was seen at a car wash in the town, the Marshals Service said. Surveillance photos showed a man who closely resembles Casey White exiting the vehicle at the car wash, officials said.
Pair had a special relationship, according to inmates
Investigators believe the pickup truck was stolen in Tennessee and then driven about 280 kilometres 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.
Before her death was announced, the Alabama sheriff said he hoped to get answers from his once trusted jail employee about her actions but acknowledged those answers might not come. "I had every bit of trust in Vicky White. She has been an exemplary employee. What in the world provoked her, prompted her to pull a stunt like this? I don't know. I don't know if we'll ever know," Singleton said.
Vicky White's family members and co-workers said they were stunned by her involvement. Singleton had said that, 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 had recently sold her home and purchased what would become the getaway car that authorities later found abandoned in Tennessee.
"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 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.
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. Investigators said they have been in contact with them about the threats and are taking measures to ensure their safety.
With files from Reuters