A national manhunt for a former corrections officer and the Alabama inmate she helped to escape last month ended Monday after a police pursuit resulted in a crash in Indiana, the authorities said. The former officer fatally shot herself, and the inmate surrendered, they said.
The former officer, Vicky White, had been on the run with the inmate, Casey White, a murder suspect to whom she was not related, since April 29, when they left the Lauderdale County Jail in Florence, Ala., for a courthouse appointment that was later revealed to be a fabrication.
The crash occurred in Evansville, Ind., more than 200 miles north of the jail, after the authorities there heard that the Whites were in a vehicle nearby and began pursuing it.
A U.S. marshals vehicle collided with the vehicle the Whites were in, causing it to roll over and crash, said Marty Keely, the U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Alabama. With the vehicle wrecked, Mr. White surrendered to the authorities, Sheriff Rick Singleton of Lauderdale County said at a news conference on Monday.
Ms. White shot herself and was taken to a hospital in “very serious” condition, Sheriff Dave Wedding of Vanderburgh County, Ind., said at a news conference on Monday. She died there on Monday night, Sheriff Singleton said by phone.
“We got a dangerous man off the street today,” Sheriff Singleton said of Mr. White at the news conference. “He is never going to see the light of day again.”
Sheriff Singleton said he was feeling “pretty down” after learning that Ms. White, who was a widow and had no children, had died.
“The whole sheriff’s office is like family,” he said. “When you have a family member that makes a bad choice, you know, you don’t like them but you still love them. She was family to us. And so yeah, it hurts.”
Sheriff Singleton added that he now believed the pair had been in a “romantic relationship,” and that Ms. White was “just as concerned about coming back and facing her family and her co-workers as she was the charges.”
It was unclear who was driving the vehicle that they were traveling in.
Ms. White disappeared with Mr. White on the morning of April 29, after she left the jail under the pretext of escorting him to the county courthouse a few blocks away for a mental health evaluation. As the jail’s assistant director of corrections, its second highest-ranking officer, she was responsible for handling transportation for inmate appearances in court. Ms. White told a booking officer at the jail that, after dropping off Mr. White, she intended to “seek medical assistance” for herself.
That did not happen, Sheriff Singleton said at a news conference on May 1. The premise for leaving the jail was “all bogus,” he said.
Ms. White’s patrol vehicle was left at a shopping center in Florence, where the pair switched vehicles, Sheriff Singleton said. They were last seen in Rogersville, Ala., about 24 miles east of Florence, Mr. Keely said. The vehicle they were in, a Ford S.U.V., was found abandoned along a rural road in Tennessee later the same day.
The disappearance was not noticed until about six hours after they had left, according to the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Singleton said the authorities knew “for sure” that Ms. White had helped Mr. White flee the jail, though he initially said she might have been coerced or threatened into doing so.
An arrest warrant was issued for her on a charge of permitting or facilitating an escape. A week later, charges of forgery and identity theft were added, stemming from the use of an alias to purchase the Ford S.U.V., the Sheriff’s Office said.
Mr. White, 38, was awaiting trial in the fatal stabbing of a woman in 2015, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which described him as approximately 6-foot-9 and weighing about 330 pounds. Mr. White had already been serving a 75-year sentence for previous convictions, including two carjackings and multiple shootings.
A lawyer for Mr. White declined to comment.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that investigators had determined, through interviews with inmates, that Ms. White and Mr. White were in a “special relationship.” Sheriff Singleton said in a news conference, “It’s obviously a jailhouse romance or something.”
He told NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday that Ms. 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 an inmate at a state prison in Donaldson, Ala.
“He was here in 2020 for an arraignment, a preliminary hearing,” Sheriff Singleton said. “When he finished that, he went back to state prison.”
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday that Ms. White was “no longer employed” by the office.
She had recently decided to retire, and the escape occurred on her last day of work. Sheriff Singleton said it was unusual for someone her age, 56, to retire four years before her retirement benefits would become available.
“Nobody saw this coming,” Sheriff Singleton said, emphasizing Ms. White’s reputation as a respected colleague who had been named the jail’s employee of the year four times.
At the time of the disappearance, Ms. White was armed with a 9-millimeter handgun. The U.S. Marshals Service warned that she and Mr. White might have been armed with a shotgun and an AR-15-style rifle.
Sheriff Singleton said after the capture on Monday that Mr. White would be “handcuffed and shackled” in his cell. “He’s not getting out of this jail again,” Sheriff Singleton said. “I assure you that.”
Johnny Diaz and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.
Soruce : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/09/us/officer-inmate-escape-alabama.html