Vicky White had talked for months about retiring, according to her boss, the sheriff. Her 16-year career at an Alabama county jail was supposed to end with one last accolade: Her colleagues had voted her corrections employee of the year.
Then, on her final day last month, White ran off with a man awaiting trial on murder charges.
Authorities soon surmised that 56-year-old Vicky White and 38-year-old Casey White were not related but had a “jailhouse romance.” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said inmates recounted favoritism and “extra food” on Casey White’s trays.
“I’ve learned that you just don’t know people sometimes,” Singleton said at a news conference Monday, as an 11-day search came to an end with a car crash, Casey White’s capture and Vicky White’s death, eventually ruled a suicide.
Officials have described a trusted supervisor who quietly uprooted her life to prepare for the escape — selling her house, withdrawing about $90,000 in cash and buying men’s clothing in the days before the getaway. She exploited her authority as second-in-command at the jail, they said, citing a nonexistent court appointment to whisk Casey White away in a patrol car.
But even those who worked with Vicky White closely for years said she shared little about her personal life, complicating their search for an explanation.
“She’s not a big talker,” Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said in an interview this week. “She wasn’t chatty.”
“She just did her job,” he added — until April 29.
That job was tough, said Jason Butler, the county’s director of corrections. Inmates could be violent and verbally abusive, he said, and sometimes Vicky White talked about quitting.
Still, she excelled — she de-escalated when confrontations broke out, Butler said, and worked the halls even as an administrator. Once, when a prisoner bit someone, she grabbed the inmate’s face to keep the person’s mouth still.
“She was a hands-on person,” Connolly said, and she “didn’t have bureaucracy get in the way of making things happen.”
In an interview Wednesday, Butler said he could not point to any red flags about Vicky White, even in hindsight. She never suggested she was lonely, he said. She had divorced her husband many years ago, according to public records. But Butler said she was close with family members.
She moved in with her mother, Pat Davis, after selling her house in the tiny town of Lexington, Ala., according to Davis’s interview in early May with Alabama news station WAAY-TV. “I told her she could stay as long as she wanted to, because she was my daughter,” said Davis, who said the topic of Casey White never came up. The Washington Post could not reach Davis or other relatives this week.
Casey White came into contact with Vicky White in 2020, officials said, when the inmate came to the Lauderdale County jail for court proceedings. Already serving a 75-year sentence for a slew of violent crimes, including attempted murder, he had confessed to a Lauderdale County murder from prison, according to authorities.
A lawyer representing Casey White declined to comment Wednesday. His client pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, citing “mental disease or defect.”
Casey White spent about three months in county custody that year, the district attorney said, and roughly four months more in 2021. Awaiting trial in the stabbing death of Connie Ridgeway, he returned to the jail on Feb. 24 — the same day online bidding for Vicky White’s home was set to close.
The house sold 11 days before the escape for $95,550, according to public records. The price was below market value.
Renee Smith Hamm told The Post that Vicky White would always wave to her from the front porch. She recounted growing up with White in the area — they were best friends in school — and “getting in little troubles, having fun.”
“She loved her mom and daddy so much, and I can’t see her just up and leaving,” the 58-year-old said. “It hurts,” she said later, tearing up.
Surveillance video captured the escape on April 29, when Vicky White claimed she was taking Casey White to a mental health evaluation a few blocks away, according to authorities. Protocol requires that two employees transport any inmate with such serious charges, they said, but 5-foot-5 Vicky White led the 6-foot-9 prisoner out the door alone.
Soon the pair had ditched the sheriff’s car in a parking lot and taken off in an orange Ford Edge that Vicky White bought under an alias, officials said. It took several hours for Vicky White’s colleagues to sound the alarm.
At a news conference that day, the sheriff said, “We’re assuming at this point that she was taken against her will.”
“I can tell you that every employee in this office is shocked,” he told reporters.
How exactly the two developed a relationship is not clear. Lauderdale County officials say Vicky White called Casey White while he was away in state prison, but they have not shared details about the recordings. As the search widened this month, authorities said they had mounting evidence of a “special” bond between the pair.
Whatever Vicky White’s role in the escape, they warned, she was in danger. The U.S. Marshals Service said Casey White had threatened to kill an ex-girlfriend if he got out of prison and shared photos of tattoos allegedly linked to a prison gang claiming White supremacy.
At first, officials said, the Whites sped away from Alabama. The Ford Edge wound up in a Tennessee tow lot about two hours from the jail. In early May, the pair left another vehicle at a carwash in Evansville, Ind.
But then they seemed to stay put, booking a 14-day stay at the Motel 41 in Evansville with a stock of wigs and guns. They may have paid a homeless man to check them in, according to local law enforcement.
That gave a Marshals Service task force time to zero in.
Authorities linked the Whites to the carwash and yet another vehicle: a Cadillac caught there on surveillance footage. On Monday, they said, an Evansville police officer reported a matching car at the Motel 41.
When the Whites emerged and abruptly drove off, members of the task force were waiting, said Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding. The pursuit ended in less than four minutes, he said, when officers rammed the Cadillac into a ditch to stop it.
Police learned later that Casey White was ready for a “shootout,” the sheriff said, characterizing the crash as one that may have saved lives.
“Air bags are going up,” Vicky White can be heard saying in a 911 call from the Cadillac, apparently placed mid-chase. “Let’s get out and run.” Seconds later, there are sirens, bangs and a high-pitched yelp.
Officials said they found Vicky White holding the gun that killed her.
“She got her finger on the trigger,” a male voice says on the 911 call.
Casey White surrendered while insisting he did not shoot the woman, according to law enforcement. He called her his “wife,” the Marshals Service said, though officials say there is no evidence they were married.
Vicky White was pronounced dead at a hospital that evening, in what the coroner later ruled a suicide. On NewsNation that night, the sheriff said he had feared this outcome. “More so than facing the charges, I think facing her family and her co-workers . . . I was just concerned that that would really weigh on her,” he said.
Connolly, the district attorney who has listened to some of investigators’ interviews with Casey White, said the prisoner claimed that Vicky White was his “only friend . . . in the world.” But he puts little stock in those words.
Butler, the corrections director, said Wednesday that only Vicky White could explain her choices to her colleagues.
“I just choose to remember her how it was before,” he said.