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The Alabama manhunt is over, but these unanswered questions remain

<i>US Marshals Service</i><br/>The Alabama manhunt is over
US Marshal
US Marshals Service
The Alabama manhunt is over

By Eric Levenson and Amanda Watts, CNN

The 11-day manhunt for former Alabama corrections official Vicky White and the prisoner she helped escape ended in Indiana on Monday with her dead from a gunshot wound and him in handcuffs, authorities said.

Yet the end of the saga leaves a number of questions still unanswered, none more so than the obvious: Why?

Why did Vicky White, a 56-year-old corrections official about to retire, decide to sell her house, stockpile cash and flee with a prisoner nearly two decades her younger who was in the early part of a 75-year prison sentence?

Some answers may be provided by Casey White, the 38-year-old prisoner, who spoke freely with investigators after his capture, Vanderburgh County, Indiana, Sheriff Dave Wedding told CNN.

“He was pretty candid with investigators last night. They had a fairly lengthy interview,” Wedding said Tuesday.

Here’s a look at a number of open questions concerning the search.

Why did Vicky White help Casey White escape?

This is the essential question of this story, and one that Vicky White, who was declared dead on Monday night after investigators say they believe she shot herself, won’t be able to answer.

Officials have said she had a “special relationship” with the prisoner, providing him extra food on occasion. But further details of their relationship are not known.

While the “why” is unknown, the how of the escape makes clear that Vicky White “was basically the mastermind behind the whole plan,” Lauderdale County, Alabama, Sheriff Rick Singleton said. She took Casey White away from the detention center on April 29 after falsely telling her colleagues she was taking him to a mental health evaluation for court.

“He was behind bars, he really couldn’t plan too much behind bars, but, yes, I think personally she was the one to put the plan together,” Singleton told CNN’s John Berman on Tuesday.

Vicky White was the second in command at the detention center and used her position to execute the plan, he said. She sold her house for below-market value before the escape, and she had gone shopping for a male change of clothes as well.

“She scheduled the van transport that morning, made sure all the other armed deputies were out of the building and tied up in court. Knew the booking officer wouldn’t question her, the assistant director when she told her she was going to take him to court and drop him off with other employees,” Singleton said. “She arranged — purchased the getaway car, she sold her house, got her hands on cash, she went shopping, bought clothes for him. She just — she just obviously put the plan together,” Singleton said.

“Casey White didn’t escape from the facility, he was basically just let out,” the sheriff said.

Why did Casey White refer to Vicky White as his wife?

A vehicle pursuit on Monday in Evansville, Indiana, ended when a US Marshals task force member drove a vehicle into the Cadillac that Casey and Vicky White were in. Their vehicle wrecked and rolled over into a ditch, US Marshal Marty Keely said.

Officers were able to remove the Casey White from the car, but Vicky White was pinned inside and had a gunshot wound to her head, Keely said.

Casey White immediately announced that his “wife” had shot herself in the head and that he didn’t do it, according to Keely. As far as investigators know, Casey White and Vicky White were not married, Keely noted, and investigators previously said they weren’t related.

Why had the couple been in Evansville since May 3?

Evansville, at the southern tip of Indiana, is about a five-hour drive north from Lauderdale County.

The officer and escaped prisoner are believed to have been in Evansville since May 3, Wedding said. The fugitives had paid for a 14-day stay at a motel in Evansville, he said.

Casey White indicated in an interview with investigators that they were trying to avoid publicity by staying there, according to Wedding.

“He said that he was just trying to find a place to hide out and lay low,” Wedding said. “They thought they had driven long enough that they wanted to stop for a while, get their bearings straight, and figure out their next place to travel.”

Investigators don’t believe they had any friends, acquaintances or family in Evansville.

Why did they go to a car wash in Evansville?

Officials were able to track the escaped duo down following a tip from the public on Sunday, Singleton said. Investigators were alerted to a 2006 Ford F-150 that had been discovered at a car wash in Evansville on Sunday night.

US Marshals released photos on Monday of the vehicle and a man they said was Casey White at the car wash. Vicky White is not seen in the images. The images, taken from a surveillance video, were dated May 3 just after 4 p.m.

The Ford F-150 was the third of four known vehicles that Casey and Vicky White used in the getaway.

They first left the Alabama detention center on April 29 in a patrol car, and then quickly moved into an orange 2007 Ford Edge that Vicky White had purchased and left in a parking lot the previous night. The Edge was found on May 6 at a Tennessee tow lot, and had been abandoned in the woods without any identifying information about a week earlier.

They were spotted on May 3 in the Ford F-150 at the car wash. That surveillance video showed they left the Ford truck at the car wash and then entered a Cadillac vehicle, Wedding said.

Investigators then tracked the Cadillac to a hotel in Evansville and began surveillance of the premises. Keely, the US Marshal, said Vicky White then exited the hotel wearing a wig, and she and Casey White got into the vehicle and drove away.

A chase began shortly after with the fugitives in the Cadillac. Hunt said it is believed they purchased the vehicle in Evansville.

How did Vicky White die?

The pursuit of the fugitives ended with their vehicle flipped on its side in a ditch. Authorities said that Vicky White was found inside the vehicle with a gunshot wound to her head. Casey White denied shooting her and turned himself in.

Wedding said that it was his understanding that Vicky White was on the phone with 911 during the chase and indicated during a call with police dispatchers she had a gun.

In dispatch audio from the Evansville Police Department, a dispatcher says, “We could hear her on the line saying she had her finger on the trigger.”

Wedding said he believed that she had fatally shot herself, but investigators will wait on an autopsy to confirm that conclusion.

“When we arrived at the scene she was still in possession of a handgun,” he said. “It had been discharged.”

Casey and Vicky White had four handguns and a semi-automatic rifle in their vehicle with them, authorities said. Casey White told investigators that if their vehicle hadn’t been rammed into a ditch, they planned” to engage in a shootout with law enforcement,” Wedding said.

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CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Miguel Marquez and Jaide Timm-Garcia contributed to this report.

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