Inside the manhunt for an escaped murder suspect and jailer

May 10, 2022, 9:06 AM | Updated: May 11, 2022, 12:30 pm
Escaped inmate Casey White, right, arrives at the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Florence, Ala., a...

Escaped inmate Casey White, right, arrives at the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Florence, Ala., after waiving extradition in Indiana Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Dan Busey/The TimesDaily via AP)

(Dan Busey/The TimesDaily via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was about three hours after sheriff’s officials in Alabama realized a capital murder suspect and a senior jail official who had taken him for a mental health evaluation had disappeared when Sheriff Rick Singleton called in the U.S. marshals.

At first, law enforcement officials believed the suspect, Casey White, might have kidnapped Vicky White, the assistant director of corrections for Lauderdale County and a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. (The two were not married or otherwise related.) But they quickly learned that her cover story was phony — the mental health evaluation was made up — and a manhunt began.

U.S. Marshal Marty Keely sprung the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force into action. The fugitive hunters hit the streets and quickly started gathering leads.

Keely’s account of the 11-day search, in an interview with The Associated Press, is the most detailed and comprehensive account to date of the U.S. Marshals Service investigation in a nationwide manhunt that ended with Vicky White dead, Casey White back in custody and law enforcement agencies trying to piece together how the escape could have happened.

The task force received its first lead early in the investigation when a fellow jail worker reported that Vicky White had called them and asked the coworker to pick her up at an Academy Sports + Outdoors store in Florence, Alabama. White said she had locked her keys in her car and needed a ride to work, Keely said. The employee thought it was strange, they would later tell investigators, but wanted to help out a friend.

In the parking lot of the sporting goods store, investigators found Vicky White’s patrol car — the same vehicle in which she left the sheriff’s office hours earlier with a handcuffed Casey White in the backseat, according to Keely. It was also where surveillance video showed she had staged a getaway vehicle, an orange Ford Edge she had purchased just days before the escape with a fistful of cash.

The investigators interviewed family members and coworkers, examined financial and other records and learned from other inmates that Vicky White had a “special relationship” with Casey and the two were involved in a “jailhouse romance,” officials have said. Weeks before the escape she sold her house for $95,000, far below the market value, sold her car and filed for retirement, Keely said. She had also bought an AR-15 rifle and a shotgun to add to her 9mm service weapon and a .45-caliber pistol investigators believe she had.

Other clues also emerged: She bought men’s clothes at a local Kohl’s store and had also visited a store that sold sex toys.

They also learned Vicky White left the jail with Casey White previously in what investigators believe was a dry run for the escape, two law enforcement officials told the AP. She’d taken him out of the jail for about 40 minutes, the officials said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the investigation.

The search was on for a hulking fugitive, a jailer and their orange car. But investigators had no idea the duo had already made it out of state and were nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) away.

Tips flowed in to the Marshals Service and sheriff’s officials but nothing panned out until a tow truck driver from Tennessee called. He had towed the Ford Edge three or four days earlier and it was still in his tow yard, Keely said.

The task force investigators rushed north to Williamson County, Tennessee. They had the right car, but the next question was where were Vicky and Casey?

Authorities scoured rural Tennessee looking for clues and showing photos of Vicky and Casey. They discovered a home with a few cars and trucks for sale on the lawn, Keely said. The homeowner instantly recognized a photo of Casey White and helped authorities piece together what had happened. He told investigators he sold White a Ford F-150 pickup truck for cash. The truck didn’t have license plates, but White didn’t care, the man told authorities.

“He says, ‘Yeah, I sold him a truck,'” Keely said of the homeowner. “And so, we learned that he sold him a truck the same day that they escaped from the Lauderdale County Correctional Facility. And it was just a few hours after they had escaped.”

During the sale, a woman in an orange Ford pulled up and the two drove off trailing one another, the man told authorities. And the homeowner provided one more clue — the pickup truck’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, according to Keely.

The two abandoned the Ford Edge and made their way to Evansville, Indiana, where Casey White eventually abandoned the pickup in the bay of a car wash.

In Evansville, investigators believe, the two paid a homeless man to use his identification to rent them a hotel room, paying cash upfront for a 14-day stay. They were living under the assumed alias in the motel and had acquired a third car, a Cadillac sedan.

The manager of the car wash first noticed the abandoned pickup truck on May 3 and realized something was amiss when it was still there the next morning. He called the police, and an officer came out, ran the license plates, took a report and left. The car wasn’t stolen and to the local police, there was nothing they could do.

A break came Sunday because the officer had written the VIN in a report. Keely’s team spotted it as they checked databases. The fugitive team descended on Evansville, working with fellow deputy marshals in Indiana.

Surveillance video from the car wash showed the Cadillac. Task force investigators began driving around checking out motels and restaurant parking lots, Keely said.

Eventually, they found the car at a local motel and placed it under surveillance. Vicky White soon emerged in a wig, alongside the 6-foot-9 Casey White, Keely said. They hopped in the Cadillac and drove off with the marshals secretly tailing them, but the officers were seen, according to Keely.

The brief pursuit ended when the officers rammed the car. The Cadillac flipped over and, at some point, Vicky White shot herself in the head, authorities said.

As officers pulled them from the wreckage, Casey White blurted out, “Please help my wife, she just shot herself in the head,” Keely said. It wasn’t clear why he referred to Vicky as his wife. Investigators quickly cuffed him and started rendering aid to Vicky as medical crews rushed to the scene.

The manhunt was over. Sheriff’s officials in Indiana said the two had about $29,000 in cash, four handguns and the AR-15 rifle. Vicky White was pronounced dead at the hospital and Casey White was returned Tuesday night to Alabama, where he was expected to face additional charges, in addition to the murder case and the 75-year prison sentence he was already serving for attempted murder and other charges. If convicted in the murder trial, he could face the death penalty.

He told investigators that he was prepared to have a shootout with police when he was captured, officials said. An attorney representing White in the murder case, Jamy Poss, declined to comment.

“This case was solved through just boots on the ground, good police work,” Keely said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Respite center opens to families of those who died in combat

A respite center for families in the United States who have lost loved ones in combat since 9/11 will open Friday on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.
14 hours ago
Downtown Vancouver Washington Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Vancouver City Council bans large fossil fuel facilities

The city council in Vancouver, Washington, has approved a permanent ban on new fossil fuel developments after years of temporary moratoriums.
14 hours ago
FILE - Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters speaks to supporters at a campaign pa...
Associated Press

Arizona Senate debate gives Masters a chance to reset race

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Blake Masters has a much-needed chance Thursday night to reset his Arizona Senate race against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in the campaign’s only televised debate. Kelly is coming in from a position of strength, with a small lead in polling and a commanding advantage in fundraising that has allowed him and […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Alabama seeks new execution date for Miller

MONTGOMERY, Ala (AP) — Alabama is asking a court to swiftly set a new execution date for an inmate who had his lethal injection called off last month after multiple failed attempts to connect an intravenous line to the man’s veins. The Alabama attorney general’s office in the Tuesday court filing asked the Alabama Supreme […]
14 hours ago
Snowbird Bruce Hickey, 70, walks along the waterfront, now littered with debris including shrimp bo...
Associated Press

After Ian, Florida island residents return to assess damage

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Residents of Florida’s Gulf Coast barrier islands were returning to assess the damage from Hurricane Ian to their homes and businesses on Thursday, despite limited access to some areas. Gov. Ron DeSantis awarded a contract to begin repairs on the Sanibel Island causeway earlier this week, but it might not […]
14 hours ago
The MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center campus is seen, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa....
Associated Press

Hospital chain attack part of ongoing cybersecurity concerns

CHICAGO (AP) — Diverted ambulances. Cancer treatment delayed. Electronic health records offline. These are just some of ripple effects of an apparent cyberattack on a major nonprofit health system that disrupted operations throughout the U.S. While CommonSpirit Health confirmed it experienced an “IT security issue” earlier this week, the company has remained mum when pressed […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Inside the manhunt for an escaped murder suspect and jailer