Fugitive Alabama inmate, jail official had multiple guns and were prepared for shootout: sheriff


An Alabama murder suspect and his jailer who evaded authorities for more than a week after walking out of an Alabama lockup were carrying $29,000 US ($37,595 Cdn) in cash, four handguns and an AR-15 rifle, and were prepared for a shootout when they were captured, an Indiana sheriff said on Tuesday.

The escaped convict, Casey White, showed no remorse over the death of jail official Vicky White, who was found mortally wounded with a gun in her hand on Monday after a brief car chase, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said.

Authorities don’t believe Casey White shot Vicky White, but a coroner will make the final determination, he said.

Casey White, 38, surrendered without a fight, saying he didn’t kill the woman he called his wife. He appeared by video on Tuesday in an Indiana courtroom, where he waived extradition, and authorities said he’ll be swiftly sent back to Alabama.

Vicky White, 56, was pronounced dead at a hospital on Monday after the Cadillac she was driving was pushed by U.S. Marshals task force members into a ditch, where it ended up on its side, the sheriff in Evansville, Ind., said. They were nearly 480 kilometres from the Alabama jail where he had been awaiting trial for capital murder.

This composite provided by the U.S. Marshals Service and Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office shows inmate Casey White, left, and Vicky White, assistant director of corrections. The fugitive pair, who are not related, were recaptured Monday after disappearing April 29 from an Alabama jail. Vicky White was found dead. (U.S. Marshals Service, Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office/The Associated Press)

The end of the manhunt did little to answer lingering questions surrounding the jailbreak: Why would a long-respected jail official on the eve of her retirement give up everything to help a dangerous felon escape? What did they do while they evaded authorities for roughly 11 days? And when they were finally surrounded, did she really pull the trigger to end her own life?

‘Jailhouse romance’

The inmate and Vicky White, who were not related, appeared to have had a “jailhouse romance,” Alabama authorities said last week. As for her role in the escape, the sheriff said: “He was not forcing her. It was a mutual relationship.”

At the time of the breakout, Casey White was serving a 75-year prison sentence for attempted murder and other offences and was awaiting trial on charges of stabbing a woman to death during a 2015 burglary. If convicted, he could get the death penalty.

Investigators believe the pair spent about six days holed up at a motel in Evansville. Authorities discovered wigs intended to hide their identities. Wedding said investigators do not believe the two had relatives or other contacts in the city of 120,000.

“They thought they’d driven long enough. They wanted to stop for a while, get their bearings straight and then figure out the next place to travel,” the sheriff said.

Casey White told investigators after his capture that “he was probably going to have a shootout at the stake of both of them losing their lives,” the sheriff said.

NBC’s Today show reported on Tuesday that federal marshals said Casey White told officers at the scene, “Please help my wife. She just shot herself in the head and I didn’t do it.” 

Sighting sparked pursuit

Authorities closed in after the manager of a car wash said he told U.S. Marshals on Sunday that a man closely resembling Casey White had been recorded by a surveillance camera getting out of a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck. White stands six feet, nine inches tall and weighs about 260 pounds.

After locating the F-150, authorities got information that the two may have then gotten into a beige 2006 Cadillac, U.S. Marshal Marty Keely told Good Morning America.

“We dispatched our people into the area of the car wash and observed the vehicle at a hotel,” Keely said.

Members of a U.S. Marshals task force went to investigate, leading to a brief chase, Wedding, Vanderburgh County’s sheriff, said on Today.

“The pursuit was very short,” Wedding said, describing how the car was rammed and sent into a ditch. “As [officers] approached the vehicle, it was obvious that the female driver was unconscious and still had a weapon in her hand. And they removed the murderer from the vehicle simultaneously.”

He said it has not been officially determined that Vicky White did in fact take her own life.

WATCH | Video shows pair leaving Alabama jail: 

Security video shows inmate escape

Footage provided by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama shows assistant corrections director Vicky White walking inmate Casey White, a murder suspect and no relation to Vicky, out the door of the prison. The pair was recaptured Monday in Indiana, after being at large since April 29. 0:42

The manhunt began April 29 after Vicky White, the assistant director of corrections for the jail in Lauderdale County, told co-workers she was taking Casey White, who was awaiting trial in a capital murder case, from the jail for a mental health evaluation. There was no such appointment.

“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, Lauderdale County’s sheriff, said.

Authorities said it appeared the plan had been in the works for some time. Vicky White had put in for retirement ahead of the escape, and the day of the breakout, April 29, was her last day of work. 

In the past several months, she bought a rifle and a shotgun and also was known to have a handgun, Keely said. She also sold her house for about half of market value and bought a 2007 orange Ford Edge that she stashed at a shopping centre without licence plates.

Connie Moore, Casey White’s mother, said she last spoke with him by phone the day before the escape. She said her son may not have known what was about to happen.

“Everything was just as normal as it could be. I doubt he even knew he was leaving when she came in there to get him,” Moore said.

Wedding, right, points to a photo of the scene where the pair were apprehended. During a news conference in Evansville, on Tuesday. Wedding said authorities found multiple weapons at the scene. (Timothy D. Easley/The Associated Press)

Jail inmates said the two had a special relationship and that Vicky White gave Casey White better treatment than other inmates.

Before Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear announced her death, the sheriff in Alabama had said he hoped to get answers from his once-trusted jail employee.

“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,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said.

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