The search for a corrections officer who disappeared last month with an inmate accused of murder in Alabama ended Monday with the two in custody after a police chase resulted in a crash in Indiana, authorities said.
The officer, Vicky White, had been on the run with the inmate, Casey White, since April 29, when they left the Lauderdale County Jail in Florence, Alabama, for a court date that was later revealed to be a fabrication.
The vehicle flipped and crashed Monday in Evansville, Indiana, about 260 miles north of Lauderdale County, after a chase with authorities, said Marty Keely, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama. With the vehicle wrecked, White turned himself in to authorities, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said at a news conference Monday.
Officer White was hospitalized Monday with a “self-inflicted” gunshot wound, Keely said by phone Monday. Sheriff Dave Wedding of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, said at a news conference Monday that Officer White’s injuries were “very serious.” Authorities did not specify where or when he killed himself.
“She’s in pretty good shape,” Sheriff Wedding said.
It is not clear who was driving the vehicle in which the Whites, who are not related, were traveling.
Sheriff Singleton said that Mr. White was driving the vehicle; However, Sheriff Wedding said Officer White was driving a Cadillac into which a US Marshals vehicle collided.
“Today we took a dangerous man off the street,” Sheriff Singleton said of Mr. White at the news conference. “He will never see the light of day again.”
The inmate and corrections officer were found about 220 miles north of the jail in Florence, Alabama, from which they had originally fled.
The two had last been seen on April 29 in Rogersville, Alabama, about 24 miles east of Florence. Mr. Keely said.
They were seen in what was described as a gold or copper-colored 2007 Ford SUV with Alabama plates, a vehicle authorities said the pair abandoned on a rural road in Williamson County, Tennessee, the same day they escaped.
The Ford was found May 6, abandoned with paint buckets inside, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said. The couple “probably tried to disguise it,” he added, “but they didn’t do very well.” Officer White’s patrol vehicle had been left at the Florence Square Mall, where the couple had switched vehicles, Sheriff Singleton said.
Officer White disappeared with Mr. White on the morning of April 29, after she was released from jail under the guise of accompanying him to the county courthouse a few blocks away for a mental health evaluation. She told a jail record officer that, after leaving Mr. White, she intended to “seek medical assistance” for her.
That didn’t happen, Sheriff Singleton said at a news conference on May 1. The premise for getting out of jail was “totally false,” he said.
The disappearance was not noticed until about six hours after the officer and inmate left, according to the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office.
Ms. White stayed at a Quality Inn in Florence, Alabama, for the two nights before she went missing, according to a video the sheriff’s office released on May 7.
“We don’t know exactly why he stayed out there,” Sheriff Singleton said, adding, “Maybe he didn’t want to face his family that morning, knowing what he was trying to do.”
Sheriff Singleton said authorities knew “for a fact” Officer White had helped Mr. White escape from jail, although he initially said she may have been coerced or threatened into doing so. As the jail’s deputy director of corrections, her second-ranking officer, she was responsible for managing transportation for inmates’ court appearances.
An arrest warrant was issued for her on the charge of allowing or facilitating an escape. A week later, forgery and identity theft charges stemming from the use of an alias to purchase the Ford SUV were added, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Mr. White, 38, was charged in 2020 with two counts of murder in the fatal stabbing of a woman in 2015, according to the US Marshals Service, which described him as approximately 6ft 9in and weighing around 330 lbs. Mr. White had already been serving a 75-year sentence for previous convictions, including two carjackings and multiple shootings. He was awaiting trial for the 2015 murder.
An attorney for White declined to comment.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that investigators had determined, through interviews with inmates, that Officer White and Mr. White had a “special relationship.” Sheriff Singleton at a news conference said, “It’s obviously a jailhouse romance or something.”
Sheriff Singleton told NBC’s “Today” show on May 5 that Officer White and Mr. White had been in a relationship for at least two years, and that the two had been in contact by phone when Mr. White was incarcerated in a state prison. in Donaldson, Ala.
“He was here in 2020 for an arraignment, a preliminary hearing,” Sheriff Singleton said. “When that was over, he went back to state prison.”
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on May 4 that Officer White was “no longer an employee” of the office.
He had recently decided to retire and the leak occurred on his last day of work. Sheriff Singleton said it was unusual for someone his age, 56, to retire four years before his retirement benefits were available.
Her mother, Pat Davis, said in an interview with WAAY-TV that Officer White never talked about retiring, though she recently sold her house and moved in with Mrs. Davis.
“Nobody saw this coming,” said Sheriff Singleton, emphasizing Officer White’s reputation as a respected colleague and a four-time recipient of the jail employee of the year honor.
At the time of the disappearance, Officer White was armed with a 9-millimeter pistol. The US Marshals Service warned that she and Mr. White may have been armed with a shotgun and an AR-15-style rifle.
On Wednesday, the US Marshals Service said in a statement that White had threatened a former girlfriend and her sister, warning them he would kill them if he ever got out of jail.
The Alabama Marshals Service and authorities have contacted the sisters “to inform them of the threats and the escape,” and have taken steps to protect them, according to the statement.
Sheriff Singleton said after the capture that Mr. White would be “handcuffed and chained” in his cell. “He’s not getting out of this jail again,” Sheriff Singleton said. “I guarantee you that.”
Alyssa Lukpat, johnny diaz Y Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed report.