The murder defendant who escaped from an Alabama detention center with a corrections official on April 29 had previous experience trying to escape prison and winning the trust of his captors.
Casey White, 38, was seen on surveillance camera in an orange jumpsuit and shackles being led into a patrol car by Vicky White, 56, a corrections official. She had told her bosses and co-workers she was taking him to court for a mental health evaluation, but authorities soon discovered there was no evaluation or hearing scheduled that day.
The duo ditched the patrol car and fled the state in another vehicle. On Monday, May 9, they were captured in Evansville, Indiana, when their vehicle crashed following a chase. Vicky White was hospitalized with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and died, officials said.
Casey White was returned to Alabama on Tuesday night to attend an arraignment, where he was charged with escape in the first degree, in addition to capital murder charges he already faces. He was then transferred to the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama, a little more 100 miles south of Lauderdale County.
In the days after the escape, officials learned Casey White and Vicky White, who are not related, had formed a “special relationship.” Here’s what we know about Casey White’s history of violence, his past escape attempt and his physical size.
A murder defendant already serving a 75-year sentence
White’s criminal history dates back a decade. Court documents alleged he beat his brother in the face and head with an axe-sledgehammer handle, landing him in prison in 2012 for more than three years.
Then in 2015, he carried out a crime spree including a home invasion, carjacking and a police chase, according to the Marshals Service. In March 2016, he was indicted on 15 counts and was ultimately convicted on seven of those counts, including attempted murder and robbery, according to Alabama records. He had been serving a 75-year prison sentence on those charges.
According to the Marshals Service, White allegedly threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and her sister in 2015 if he got out of prison and said he wanted the police to kill him. The agency said it advised his “potential targets” of the threat after his escape and had taken protective actions.
Josh Goan was one of the victims in the 2015 case. He said White broke into his truck, stole his firearm and then used the firearm to carjack his neighbor and the neighbor’s infant baby. Goan was a witness in the trial and told CNN it was a surreal experience to see how little remorse White had.
“I was very satisfied that they gave him enough time that by the time – if he ever – gets out, he would not be able to do anything. I took security in that and definitely have lost a little bit of peace (since the escape),” he said before the pair’s capture.
White’s escape, Goan said, was “a terrible thing for society.”
White was serving out his 75-year sentence at the William E. Donaldson Correction Facility in Jefferson County.
But in 2020, he allegedly confessed to the 2015 stabbing death of 59-year-old Connie Ridgeway and was charged with two counts of capital murder. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was brought to the Lauderdale County’s detention center to attend court hearings in the case, authorities said.
There, he came into contact with Vicky White, who was working as the assistant director of corrections for Lauderdale County.
He was brought back to the Lauderdale detention center February 25, Sheriff Rick Singleton said.
A trusted inmate who had tried to escape before
This wasn’t White’s first attempt to escape, nor was it the first time he had gained the trust of correctional officials.
In 2020, while White was being held in Lauderdale County’s detention center, authorities learned he planned to escape the jail and take a hostage, Singleton said.
“We shook him down, and we did find a shank in his possession – a shank is a prison knife – and we retrieved that. We immediately had him shipped back to the Department of Corrections,” Singleton said.
An attorney who represented White through 2020 told CNN affiliate WAFF the latest escape attempt was in itself not a surprise.
“I was not shocked Casey escaped,” attorney Dale Bryant said. “I was shocked of who he escaped with. I had never heard of her before. But this was not the first escape attempt Casey had attempted while at Lauderdale County facing those charges.”
Prior to the current escape, Casey White and Vicky White had developed a “special relationship,” which included extra food, Singleton said.
“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” he said.
Likewise, Casey White had previously gained the trust of officials of the Limestone County Sheriff’s office.
“When he was in Limestone County after a little while he had earned the trust of the Sheriff’s department at that time, and they allowed him to be a trustee inside the jail,” Bryant told WAFF. CNN has reached out to the Limestone County Sheriff’s office for more information about its trustee program.
An imposing man with White supremacist tattoos
White stands at an imposing 6-foot-9 and weighs about 330 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes, the US Marshals Service said.
The agency released images of his tattoos, some of which it said are affiliated with the Alabama-based White supremacist prison gang Southern Brotherhood. A tattoo on his back depicts a Confederate flag with the words “Southern Pride,” and a tattoo on his chest depicts a shield emblazoned with the letters “SB,” a Nazi swastika and the letters “SS” in the lightning-bolt style of the infamous Nazi paramilitary group.
Bryant, the attorney, told WAFF White’s size made him stand out.
“I’m 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and he makes me feel small,” he said.
He also noted White has a mental illness and has abused drugs. Still, he said, White was a “decent person” when on medication in a supervised environment and said he can even be friendly at times.
“(He’s) one of the few clients I had that never held back and tried to lie to me about something,” he said. “He just laid it out on the table.”
Sheriff Singleton said before White’s capture that he could be particularly dangerous if not taking his medications.
“Casey White is a dangerous man. He’s supposed to be on medication. Whether he’s taking those or not, we don’t know. He didn’t leave the jail with any,” he said. “When he gets off his meds, he can be extremely dangerous.”
CNN’s Nadia Romero, Jaide Timm-Garcia and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.