by Kevin W. Bliss
On July 12, 2022, the District Attorney (DA) for Alabama’s Lauderdale County announced murder charges against a former detainee in the county jail who escaped with the help of a high-ranking guard, after which she fatally shot herself as authorities closed in to recapture him.
Vicky White, the jail’s Assistant Director of Correction, died on May 9, 2022, after an 11-day manhunt for the detainee, Casey White, whose escape she abetted. The two are not related, but they apparently developed a romantic relationship when he was transferred to the jail from the state Department of Corrections (DOC) in 2021 to appear at the county court, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.
Before that, Casey White, 38, was serving a 75-year prison sentence at DOC’s Donaldson Correctional Facility near Birmingham for multiple violent felony convictions. Investigators later found 949 phone calls recorded there between the pair — an average of four per day — which Singleton described as “basically phone sex.”
White then returned to the county jail once more in February 2022 to await trial for the fatal 2015 stabbing of Connie Ridgeway, 58. After allegedly confessing to that crime in 2020, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Vicky White, 56, worked nearly 17 years at the jail, where she was second in command and reportedly well-liked by other employees, receiving the jail’s Employee of the Year award five out of eight years. Co-workers were baffled as to why the 5’5” blonde got involved with a 6’9” convict with white supremacist tattoos covering his body.
“I never would have thought that in a million years,” said District Attorney Chris Conolly. “I would have trusted her with my life.”
Yet authorities believe it was Vicky White who masterminded the escape. Weeks before the two absconded, she filled out retirement papers and ditched her home in a rushed sale for less than half its market value, using the cash to purchase a Ford SUV under an alias, along with men’s clothing.
The day of their escape, she scheduled multiple van transports to shuttle prisoners to court, leaving Casey White’s transport scheduled separately. After having the detainee brought out in handcuffs, the guard prepared him for transport herself, a violation of jail policy. When questioned about it by a booking officer, she replied that she was the only one available with firearm certification, an explanation that was apparently accepted.
Unknown to the other jail employees, the guard had fabricated a mental health evaluation for the detainee that had never really been scheduled. On April 29, 2022, the pair left in a sheriff’s cruiser that was later found in a lot where Vicky White had apparently parked her SUV in preparation for the escape. With her knowledge of the jail and court, the two got a six-hour head start before they were missed. It then took authorities over a week and a half to catch up with them after their escape.
Driving north, the pair exchanged vehicles at least twice before reaching Evansville, Indiana, 280 miles away. There they rented a motel room just before their vehicle was spotted by an off-duty Evansville police detective, Darren Richardson. Police tracked the vehicle as it left the motel on the morning of May 9, 2022. A car chase ensued, and police forced the vehicle into a ditch. Officers testified that Casey White, who was driving, had his hands outside the window in surrender when they heard the fatal gunshot with which Vicky White took her own life.
Found in her possession were $29,000 in cash, guns, and several wigs. The U.S. Marshals Service reported that Casey White climbed out of the couple’s last vehicle, a Cadillac, and cried out: “Please help my wife. She just shot herself in the head, and I didn’t do it.”
He has been extradited to Alabama and charged under the state’s felony murder statute, which could make him liable for the suicide because he was committing another crime — he is also charged with felony escape — at the same time.
Sources: AL.com, Birmingham News, CNN, The Independent, NBC News
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