It was about three hours after sheriff’s officials in Alabama realized aWhat he had taken for a mental health assessment was gone when Sheriff Rick Singleton called in the US rangers. At first, law enforcement officials believed that the suspect, Casey White, might have kidnapped Vicki White, the assistant director of corrections for Lauderdale County and a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who had no connection to the man.
But officials soon learned her cover story was fake – a mental health assessment was fabricated – and a manhunt began.
U.S. Marshal Marty Kelly pushed the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitives Task Force into action. The fleeing fishermen took to the streets and soon began collecting leads.
Kelly’s account of the 11-day search, in an interview with The Associated Press, is the most detailed and comprehensive account yet of the US Marshals Service’s investigation of a nationwide manhunt that ended with Vicki White’s death, and Casey White’s return to custody and the law. Enforcement agencies try to piece together how the escape occurred.
The task force received its first lead early in the investigation when a fellow prison worker reported that Vicki White called them and asked a co-worker to pick her up at the Academy Sports + Outdoors store in Florence, Alabama. White said she locked her keys in her car and needed a commute to go to work, Kelly said. The employee thought it was strange, they later told the detectives, but they wanted to help a friend.
In the parking lot of a sporting goods store, detectives found Vicki White’s patrol car — the same car she had left the mayor’s office hours earlier with Casey White handcuffed in the back seat, according to Kelly. It was also the place where surveillance video showed she orchestrated an escape car, an orange Ford Edge she had purchased just days before the escape with a fist of cash.
Investigators interviewed family members and co-workers, examined financial and other records and learned from other colleagues that Vicki White ““With Casey and the two were involved in a ‘prison love story,’ the officials said.” Weeks before the escape, she sold her home for $95,000, well below market value, sold her car and applied for retirement, Kelly said. She bought an AR-gun 15 and a rifle to add to the service’s 9mm weapon and investigators believe it has a .45 caliber pistol.
Other clues also appeared: she bought men’s clothing at the local Kohl store and also visited a store that sold sex toys.
They also learned that Vicki White had previously left prison with Casey White in what investigators believe was an escape attempt, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. Officials said she got him out of prison for 40 minutes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the details of the investigation.
The search was underway for a huge fugitive, a jailer, and their orange car. But investigators had no idea the duo had actually survived the case and were nearly 200 miles away.
Gratuities poured into the Marshall Department and sheriff’s office officials but nothing was finished until a tow truck driver from Tennessee called. Kelly said he pulled a Ford Edge three or four days ago and it was still in his tow.
Task Force investigators rushed north to Williamson County, Tennessee. They had the right car, but the next question was where are Vicki and Casey?
Authorities scoured rural Tennessee looking for clues and showing pictures of the two of them. Kelly said they discovered a house with a few cars and trucks for sale on the lawn. The homeowner immediately recognized a photo of Casey White and helped the authorities piece together what had happened. He told investigators that White had sold a Ford F-150 pickup truck for cash. The man told authorities that the truck did not have license plates, but White did not care.
“He says, ‘Yes, I sold him a truck,'” Kelly said of the homeowner. “So, we learned that he sold him a truck on the same day they escaped from Lauderdale County Jail. And that was only a few hours after their escape.”
The man told authorities that during the sale, a woman pulled up in an orange Ford and the two drove off behind each other. And according to Kelly, the homeowner provided another clue—the pickup truck vehicle identification number, or VIN.
The two abandoned their Ford Edge and made their way to Evansville, Indiana, where Casey White eventually abandoned the pickup truck in the Car Wash Bay.
In Evansville, investigators believe, the two paid a homeless man to use his ID to rent a hotel room, paying cash in advance for the 14-day stay. They lived under the assumed alias at the motel and bought a third car, a Cadillac sedan.
The car wash manager first noticed the abandoned truck on May 3 and realized something was wrong when it was still there the next morning. He called the police, an officer got out, got license plates, took a report and left. The car was not stolen and the local police had nothing to do.
Sunday’s break came because the officer wrote the VIN number into a report. The Keely team discovered it while checking databases. The fugitive team descended on to Evansville, where it worked with fellow Indiana Vice Marshals.
Show the surveillance video from the Cadillac car wash. Kelly said task force investigators began walking around the hotel and checking parking spaces at hotels and restaurants.
In the end, they found the car at a local hotel and put it under surveillance. Soon, Vicki White appeared in a wig, alongside Casey White who is 6 feet 9 feet tall, Kelly said. They jumped in a Cadillac and set off with the guards secretly disposing of them, but officers were spotted, according to Kelly.
The brief chase ended when the officers hit the car. The Cadillac flipped, and at one point, Vicki White shot herself in the head, authorities said.
When officers pulled them out of the wreckage, Casey White blew up,Kelly said. It wasn’t clear why he described Vicki as his wife, but US Rangers told CBS News there was no evidence that Casey and Vicki White ever married.
Detectives quickly handcuffed him and began to provide assistance to Vicki while medical personnel rushed to the scene.
She died of a gunshot wound to the head.Tuesday night.
The coroner’s office said: “The method of death was considered suicidal.”
The chase is over. Indiana Sheriff’s officials said the two had about $29,000 in cash, four handguns and an AR-15 rifle. Vicki White was declared dead in 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 a murder trial, he could face the death penalty.
Officials said he told investigators he was ready to shoot with police when he was arrested. The attorney representing White in the murder case, Jimmy Boss, declined to comment.
“This case was resolved with just wreckage on the ground, and good police work,” Kelly said.