Alabama fugitive corrections official Vicky White died of suicide, coroner’s office says
Fugitive Alabama corrections official Vicky White died of suicide, an Indiana coroner’s office said Thursday, backing up authorities’ suspicions that she shot herself after a Monday car chase that concluded 11 days on the run with an inmate she’s accused of freeing.
White, 56, who authorities said freed inmate Casey White in late April from the Alabama jail where she worked, died of a single gunshot wound to the head, the coroner’s office in Indiana’s Vanderburgh County said.
Further details about the office’s findings weren’t available. A spokesperson said the coroner’s office will not release the full report because it’s part of an ongoing investigation.
Authorities had said they believed Vicky White fatally shot herself after the car the pair were in wrecked while being pursued by law enforcement in Evansville, Indiana.
Casey White, a 38-year-old defendant in an Alabama murder case, was taken into custody after Monday’s crash and transported to an Alabama state prison.
The chase ended a multistate manhunt that started April 29, when authorities say Vicky White, then the assistant director of corrections at a jail in Alabama’s Lauderdale County, checked Casey White out of the detention center under the pretense of taking him to a courthouse.
Investigators believe the two fostered a romantic relationship while Casey White, who was normally housed in a state prison, was periodically transferred to the Lauderdale County jail to attend hearings related to the 2015 stabbing death of Connie Ridgeway, for which White is facing capital murder charges. The county sheriff has said the two maintained communication when he was transferred back to state prison.
On Wednesday, Evansville officials released audio of a 911 call they say Vicky White made during Monday’s chase — audio that gives some insight into the seconds leading to her death but does not by itself appear to clarify how or when she sustained the gunshot injury.
What the 911 call and officer incident reports reveal
Incident reports from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office and a 911 call offer pieces about what happened at the end of the chase for the inmate and officer.
As officers were chasing a Cadillac driven by Casey White on Monday afternoon, they rammed the Cadillac into a ditch, and the vehicle rolled over, authorities said. Investigators believe Vicky White shot herself “once the vehicle crashed,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said Tuesday.
The 911 audio appears to start near the end of the chase. It begins with someone saying something indiscernible, and the dispatcher saying “Evansville 911.” No one appears to address the dispatcher, who says, “911” and “hello” seemingly without being answered.
Instead, a woman’s voice — which authorities say is Vicky White’s — is heard within the first six seconds saying things including, “Stop,” and “Wait, stop … air bags going to go off and kill us.”
Twelve seconds in, a loud noise is heard — the first of at least four loud noises to happen in about 15 seconds. It’s unclear in each instance what the noises represent, and it’s unclear from the audio when the car was rammed, when it rolled over and when a gun was fired.
“God,” the woman says after the first noise. “Air bags are going off. Let’s get out and run.” She mentions a hotel.
The second noise is heard, and the woman shrieks. At least two more noises come, followed — now 30 seconds into the tape — by another shriek.
For the next 30 seconds, generally only muffled sounds of sirens are heard. A minute into the recording, a soft voice is heard — perhaps a moan — but it’s not clear whose voice it is.
Shortly after, distant voices are heard, along with occasional movement, though it’s unclear whether it’s inside or outside the vehicle. About one minute and 40 seconds into the recording, someone starts repeatedly saying phrases like “she is breathing” and “got a gun in her hand.”
The phone line stays open as officers work to get the pair out of the vehicle.
A report from an officer who was on scene as the pair’s vehicle crashed said they saw a male driver “attempting to stick his hands out of the driver side window” and, shortly after, the officer said they heard one gunshot coming from inside the vehicle.
Officers pulled the male suspect from the driver’s side of the car and he made statements that “his wife” shot herself, the officer reported. According to the officer’s report, the man had a “small amount of blood” on the back of his head.
Another officer said they approached the wrecked vehicle and saw the woman had a gunshot wound to the head and was holding a gun in her right hand “with her finger on (the) trigger,” according to a case supplemental report. The woman appeared to be breathing, the report said.
A third officer, who approached as the male suspect was taken away in handcuffs, said they heard officers saying the suspect in the car had shot herself and had a gun in her hand, according to that report. The officer said they opened the sunroof, crawled into the vehicle, handed the suspect’s gun to another officer and then pulled the woman out of the vehicle, according to the report. EMTs and firefighters then rendered further medical aid, the report added.
Vicky White was transported to a hospital, where she died, US Marshals said.
On Tuesday, Wedding told CNN that Vicky White had indicated in a call with police dispatchers that she had a gun. Also, in dispatch audio from Evansville police released earlier this week, the dispatcher can be heard advising law enforcement units “we could hear her on the line saying she had her finger on the trigger.”
The 911 recording does not appear to reveal Vicky White mentioning a gun or her finger on a trigger. However, other people in the recording — presumably responding officers — can be heard saying her finger was on the trigger when they found her.
CNN has sought comment from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office about how to reconcile the 911 audio with the remarks by the sheriff and the dispatcher.
No law enforcement officers fired any shots during the chase, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.
When officers pulled Casey White out of the car and took him into custody, he reportedly told them to help “his wife” who had shot herself in the head and insisted he didn’t do it, according to US Marshal Marty Keely, who said to their knowledge, the pair was not married. Authorities previously said the officer and inmate were not related.
Casey White indicated he intended to have a shootout with law enforcement if his car had not been rammed into a ditch, Wedding said Tuesday, citing White’s interviews with investigators after his capture.
“(Casey White) said he was probably going to have a shootout, at the stake of both of them losing their lives,” Wedding said.
What will happen to Casey White?
Casey White was returned to Alabama on Tuesday night to attend an arraignment in Lauderdale County.
Judge Ben Graves told White at the hearing he will be charged with escape in the first degree, in addition to capital murder charges he was already facing related to Ridgeway’s death. White allegedly confessed to killing her but later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, authorities said.
After the hearing, White was transferred directly to the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, a state prison in Bessemer, a little more 100 miles south of Lauderdale County.
White was already serving a 75-year sentence for a series of crimes he committed in 2015, including a home invasion, carjacking and police chase, according to the US Marshals Service.
White’s murder trial is currently set for June. During Tuesday’s court appearance, White’s attorney, Jamy Poss, said he would be filing a change of venue motion, which the judge said he would consider.
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