The 11-day manhunt for Casey White, a 38-year-old convicted felon, and Vicky White, the 56-year-old corrections officer who helped him escape, ended on Monday when Casey was re-apprehended. Vicky took her own life after the two were cornered by police. Here's everything you need to know:
Are Vicky and Casey White related?
The two were not related by blood, but after Vicky shot herself in the head, Casey exclaimed, "Please help my wife!" U.S. Marshal Martin Keely said that, to the best of his knowledge, the two were not legally married.
Why was Casey White in jail?
A 2015 crime spree that included a home invasion, a carjacking, and a police chase earned Casey White a 75-year-sentence. White allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend's home, fatally shot the family's dog, and fired several shots at her. According to a warrant stemming from this incident, Casey said that he "wanted to kill her and have the police kill him" and that "if he was released, he would kill the victim."
Then, in 2020, Casey was charged with capital murder after he confessed to stabbing a 58-year-old woman to death. Authorities moved him to a detention center in Lauderdale County, Alabama, to await trial for the murder charge. It was there that he met Vicky.
Dale Bryant, Casey's former attorney, told Newsweek via email that Vicky was likely the mastermind behind the escape. "None of his crimes were planned," Bryant wrote. "They are all short-sighted, in-the-moment crimes." Bryant also said that Casey is mentally ill but is "a decent person" when he's "on medication and in a supervised environment."
How did they pull off the escape?
Readers hoping for a dramatic tale of digging a tunnel with a stolen spoon or whittling a fake gun in the prison woodshop will be disappointed. On April 29, her last day of work before retirement, Vicky signed Casey out of prison, supposedly for a mental health evaluation at the courthouse. The two never arrived at the courthouse, and it was later determined that no evaluation had ever been scheduled.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said the escape was "well planned and calculated" and that the two "had plenty of resources, had cash, had vehicles, had everything they needed to pull this off."
Before the escape, Vicky sold her house for well below market value (around $95,000), bought clothing for Casey, purchased a 2007 Ford Edge under a fake name, and booked a room at a Quality Inn in Florence, Alabama. After switching cars in the hotel parking lot, the star-crossed lovers drove north.
How were they caught?
Vicky White and Casey White left Vicky's patrol car at the Quality Inn and drove north for about two hours in Vicky's Ford. They then abandoned the vehicle in the woods in College Grove, Tennessee, possibly due to mechanical problems.
Law enforcement offered $15,000 for information leading to Casey's capture, and $10,000 for information leading to Vicky's capture.
On May 3, Vicky's Ford Edge was located, which enabled law enforcement to narrow their manhunt. Before that, officers were forced to search in every direction, said Chad Hunt of the U.S. Marshals. The next day, surveillance cameras captured video of a man who appeared to be Casey White washing a 2006 Ford F-150 at a car wash in Evansville, Indiana — around 200 miles from College Grove.
That car was later found abandoned as well, but the noose was tightening. A tip came in Sunday, leading law enforcement to the fugitives' location. On Monday, officers conducting surveillance saw Vicky White leave a hotel with a wig on and then drive away with Casey in a black Cadillac. Law enforcement tailed them, and a chase ensued. One member of the U.S. Marshals task force rammed the Whites' vehicle, causing it to roll over.
"When this occurred," Evansville Sheriff Dave Wedding said at a press conference, "the female driver of the vehicle shot herself and the passenger was injured." She was pronounced dead a few hours later. Police were able to extract Casey, who insisted he didn't shoot Vicky, from the wreckage. Singleton said no law enforcement officers fired their weapons.
Casey told police he had planned to engage in a shootout with law enforcement, but was prevented from doing so by the wreck. Officers recovered four handguns, and AR-15 assault rifle, and $29,000 in cash from the Cadillac.
Was it love?
The two had what Singleton described as a "special relationship" and a "jailhouse romance," though he said there was no evidence that their relationship was physical or sexual in the months leading up to the escape.
Criminologist Casey Jordan told CNN that Vicky White may have suffered from hybristophilia — an "attraction to and/or sexual interest in those who commit crimes, particularly heinous and violent crimes such as rape and murder." Jordan added that Casey White likely gave Vicky — who was, by all accounts, a model employee — "a feeling of being alive after decades of feeling staid, safe and 'reliable.'"
Vicky White is not the first middle-aged female corrections officer to fall in love with an inmate and help him escape. In 2015, 51-year-old prison guard Joyce Mitchell provided murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat with tools, which they used to tunnel out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Mitchell, who served five years in prison for aiding in the escape, said Matt "was nice to me" and made her "feel special" but that he was also sexually violent with her.
Jordan explains that women like Joyce Mitchell and Vicky White often feel a "deep void" as they grapple with "a declining sense of attractiveness" and a "loss of excitement," a void that is "somehow filled by the attention of a Bad Boy."
Casey White appeared in court on Tuesday, where he signed a document with his shackled hand waiving his right to an extradition hearing. He will now be transported back to Alabama.
Vicky had been charged with a first-degree count of permitting or facilitating escape and with forgery and identity theft for her purchase of the Ford Edge.
Her colleagues say her death leaves many unanswered questions. Wedding, the sheriff, said she probably shot herself, but that he "won't rule anything out until we have a thorough investigation by the coroner." The autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.