So when she disappeared alongside Casey White -- an inmate being held on murder charges -- in a swift escape that officials say was premeditated, those who knew her felt blindsided.
Vicky White, a 56-year-old widow with no children, disappeared after she said she was taking Casey White -- who is not related to her -- for a mental health evaluation at the county courthouse. No evaluation or hearing was scheduled for the inmate that day, authorities later found.
Lauderdale County assistant director of corrections Vicky White and inmate Casey Cole White. (Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office, Alabama)
On May 9, the pair were discovered and taken into custody in Evansville, Indiana, officials said. Vicky White was hospitalized after shooting herself, authorities said. Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding told CNN on Monday night that she had died.
Vicky White was accused of permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree and other charges, while Casey White faces murder charges in an existing case.
Speaking to CNN last week, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton could not provide a reason why the officer aided the escape, saying that the action isn't "the Vicky White we know."
"Obviously there was a side to Vicky White that we weren't aware of," he told CNN. "She has coordinated this and taken advantage of her knowledge of the system and played it to her advantage."
MORE: Escaped Alabama inmate Casey White called prison guard his 'wife' when apprehended
Though the hunt for Vicky White and Casey White has come to a close, questions about the former corrections official remain.
Here is what we know about her:
She was not kidnapped or forced into assisting the inmate's escape
Singleton told CNN before the pair's capture that it appeared Vicky White willfully assisted Casey White.
Casey White was serving 75 years for a series of crimes in 2015, including a home invasion, carjacking and a police chase, according to the US Marshals Service. He also faces two counts of capital murder for the stabbing death of 59-year-old Connie Ridgeway in 2015, the US Marshals said.
"She's absolutely assisting him. We still don't know 100% it was willful, but it's looking that way," Singleton said while the pair was on the run.
Vicky White said she was taking Casey White to a courthouse for a mental health evaluation April 29 and would then go get medical care because she wasn't feeling well. Authorities later discovered no hearing or evaluation was scheduled for Casey White that day, and Vicky White never arrived at the medical facility. Her patrol car was found abandoned in a shopping center parking lot, less than a mile from the detention center.
Officials obtained video showing the patrol car the pair took from the jail.
The video shows the car stopped at an intersection eight minutes after it left the jail. The intersection is about two blocks from the shopping center parking lot where the car was later found abandoned, Singleton said.
"It's obvious from the evidence we have gathered that this was not -- that he didn't kidnap her or force her or anything as far as in the car once they left the facility," Singleton said.
People who knew Vicky White admired her
Vicky White was an "exemplary employee" with "an unblemished record," Singleton said. "All of her co-workers, all the employees in the sheriff's office, the judges, all have the most utmost respect for her," he said.
Despite her stellar professional reputation, Vicky White violated protocol when she removed Casey White from the detention center by herself, the sheriff said. The policy required Casey White to be escorted by two sworn deputies.
It looks likely Vicky White acted of her own free will, the sheriff said.
"I guess we're trying to hold on to that last straw of hope that maybe for some reason she was threatened and did this under coercion ... but absolutely you'd feel betrayed," Singleton said. "All of her co-workers are devastated. We've never had any situation like this with Vicky White. She was a model employee."
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly last spoke with Vicky White the day before she disappeared and said he was "absolutely stunned" to learn of the situation. Connolly described the officer as "the most solid person at the jail."
"I would have trusted her with my life," he said. "I am so disappointed in her. She was trusted and she exploited that trust."
Pat Davis, Vicky White's mother, who lived next door to her and saw her daughter daily, told CNN last week that they last spoke on April 29, the day Vicky White disappeared.
"The whole thing has been a nightmare. I just want my daughter to come home. And to come home alive," Davis said.
Davis said she had no idea about her daughter's plans. "She would come home after work, eat supper at my house, and pick up her dog. She'd walk her dog and that was her routine every day," Davis told CNN.
Vicky White had a 'special relationship' with the inmate
Vicky White and Casey White had a "special relationship," Singleton said last week.
"We have confirmed through independent sources and other means that there was in fact a relationship between Casey White and Vicky White outside of her normal work hours -- not physical contact -- but a relationship of a different nature," Singleton told CNN.
Singleton said inmates tipped officials off to the special relationship between the two.
"We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates," Singleton said.
Over the course of the investigation, inmates said Casey White "was getting extra food on his trays" and "was getting privileges no one else got. And this was all coming from her," Singleton said.
Confirmation of the relationship came from "other sources outside the detention center," according to Singleton.
Investigators have traced the relationship to early 2020, when Casey White was brought to Lauderdale County for an arraignment on murder charges he is facing for the 2015 death of Ridgeway, according to the sheriff.
"As far as we know, that was the earliest physical contact they had," Singleton said.
Casey White was returned to state prison after the arraignment to continue carrying out a 75-year sentence for a series of crimes he committed in 2015. The sheriff said the officer and inmate maintained communication by telephone.
Casey White was brought back to the Lauderdale County jail in February to attend court hearings related to his murder charges.
Connolly expressed disbelief at the idea Vicky White would be romantically involved with the inmate.
"I never would have thought that in a million years," he told CNN, adding it's "such a shock that she's involved in this, and it is just stunning."
She submitted her retirement paperwork in April
The day Vicky White disappeared was to be her last day at work after nearly two decades with the department, Singleton said. She submitted her retirement paperwork at the end of April.
Vicky White didn't mention her retirement to her mother, Davis told CNN affiliate WAAY.
As of last week, she was no longer employed with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's office, the department said in an email statement.
"Per Sheriff Rick Singleton, Vicky White's employment status is currently 'No longer employed by the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office,'" the email said. "Friday was her last day to work, however, her retirement papers were not finalized. This is a personnel issue that will be discussed on a later date."
Singleton said Vicky White had spoken about retiring for three or four months prior to the disappearance, adding that she talked about moving to the beach.
While the retirement fund paperwork had not been processed, she recently sold her home and had access to a large sum of money, according to Singleton.
Shortly before her disappearance, Vicky White sold her home for $95,550, well below the current market value. County records list the total parcel value of the property to be $235,600.
She also purchased a 2007 Ford Edge, which the pair used after leaving behind the patrol car. The Ford was found abandoned in Williamson County, Tennessee, hours after the prison escape.
"Clearly lots of planning went into this," Connolly told CNN.
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