A former corrections officer accused of helping a capital murder suspect escape from an Alabama jail last week died Monday after a police chase ended in a car crash in Indiana, authorities said.
The ex-officer, Vicky White, 56, was pronounced dead hours after the crash, Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear said.
The murder suspect, Casey White, 38, surrendered to authorities after the wreck, Rick Singleton, the sheriff of Lauderdale County in Alabama, told reporters earlier.
The U.S. Marshals Service said when Casey White came out of the car, he exclaimed: "Please help my wife. She just shot herself in the head, and I didn’t do it."
Vicky and Casey White were not related, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said Tuesday on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
While the initial information indicates Vicky White shot herself, the sheriff said that "we won’t rule anything out until we have a thorough investigation by the coroner."
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, Lockyear said.
Vicky White was pronounced dead at a hospital in Evansville, Indiana, shortly after 7 p.m. local time, Lockyear said. He didn’t say how she died.
“This has ended a very long, stressful, challenging week and a half,” Singleton said.
Casey White was taken into custody after he was seen on a security camera washing a Ford F-150 pickup in Evansville.
The business owner provided authorities with security camera images, and the agency confirmed they showed White, the Marshals Service said.
Officials had previously said the Ford F-150 was the vehicle White was driving when the crash occurred, but the pair appeared to have been in a different vehicle.
Officials have said Casey White had a "special relationship" with Vicky White, the former assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Jail. Authorities said they had a relationship for at least two years and communicated over the phone.
Additional details about their relationship have not been disclosed. Vicky White is believed to have helped Casey White escape on her final day at work.
Vicky White was not seen in the photos from the car wash. It wasn’t immediately clear why they were in Evansville, roughly 270 miles north of the Lauderdale County Jail.
A warrant for her arrest was issued this month alleging she facilitated or permitted Casey White's April 29 escape.
Casey White was charged with two counts of capital murder in September 2020 in the stabbing of Connie Ridgeway, 58, and he was already in jail in connection with a 2015 home invasion, carjacking and police chase, according to the Marshals Service.
Casey White confessed to stabbing Ridgeway and was awaiting trial at the Lauderdale County Jail when he disappeared, according to the agency.
Austin Williams, Ridgeway's son, said he was relieved Casey White had been captured. "Just night and day difference. It’s like you’re going through the darkest night, and then the next day the sun is shining," he said. The Marshals Service said investigators have learned that before Casey White's sentencing in 2015, “he made threats against his ex-girlfriend and her sister, warning that if he ever got out, he would kill them and that he wanted police to kill him.”
Officers realized the two were missing around 3:30 p.m. April 29, when Vicky White’s phone went straight to voicemail after repeated attempts to contact her, Singleton said.
Vicky White and Casey White left the detention center, purportedly for a mental health evaluation in court. Investigators later confirmed that such an evaluation was never scheduled, Singleton said.
At the time of her departure, Vicky White told the booking officer she planned to go to a medical appointment after she dropped off Casey White because she was not feeling well. But she had no appointment scheduled, Singleton said.
She transported the suspect by herself — a violation of the policy requiring two sworn deputies to transport people under those charges, the sheriff said.
Vicky White had talked about retiring for months. She had sold her house, and her last day of work as a Lauderdale County corrections officer was supposed to be April 29 — the day she and Casey White vanished.