It took days for Evansville police to link the truck to the case
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A prison escapee and his accomplice were locked up in an Evansville hotel for at least six days amid a nationwide manhunt, even though their abandoned vehicle was found and brought to the attention of authorities .
An Evansville car wash manager says law enforcement was slow to respond to his concerns about the F-150 pickup that turned out to have been used by the escaped inmate. Alabama Casey White and his alleged accomplice.
Police said there was initially no evidence linking the van to the case, and due to miscommunication officers believed until Monday morning that the vehicle was linked to another crime in Kentucky.
After:Police: Casey White and Vicky White prepare for shooting in Evansville, Indiana
Casey White and Vicky White were captured Monday afternoon in Evansville after a short police chase on US 41. Vicky White committed suicide before being apprehended and later died at Deaconess Hospital.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding praised efforts by multiple agencies to locate and capture them, ignoring any idea that police were slow to act.
“They knew they were facing a dangerous criminal, a murderer,” Wedding said. “I can’t shout enough praise to all law enforcement here in our community for the hard work they do.”
Truck abandoned by whites on May 3
James Stinson, who ran the car wash for 18 years, told the Courier & Press he first noticed a suspicious vehicle parked in a wash bay on May 3, the same day police now say that Casey White and Vicky White abandoned a Ford F-150 truck. in Evansville.
“Normally I just call and have them towed,” Stinson said. “But something was suspicious about it.”
Evansville Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Anna Gray said officers first responded to the abandoned truck on the morning of May 4. When officers arrived, Stinson was not present, according to Gray, and a check of the vehicle’s license plates did not indicate he had been stolen or involved in a crime. .
“At the time, there was no indication that the vehicle was related to the Alabama case,” Gray said. “And our officers never heard the caller say he thought it was connected.”
When Stinson returned to the car wash, he again called the police to inquire about the abandoned vehicle. When an officer returned and checked the license plates, Stinson said, the results were the same: nothing out of the ordinary about the vehicle.
Since the EPD requires a vehicle to be abandoned for at least 48 hours before it can be towed, Gray said Stinson opted to call a tow truck himself.
Confusion Between Marshals and Evansville Police
However, on May 8, Gray said U.S. Marshals told EPD the vehicle was stolen and possibly related to a crime. Due to miscommunication, officers initially thought the truck was used to commit a crime in Kentucky.
As of the morning of May 9, officers still did not know what crime the vehicle had been involved in, Gray said.
U.S. Marshals eventually confirmed the Ford F-150 was likely linked to Casey White and Vicky White, and law enforcement quickly descended on Weinbach Car Wash for evidence.
Stinson said he immediately thought surveillance footage from the car wash depicted a man who looked like Casey White.
“The computer forensics guy comes in and gets the drive (from the computer) and asks me, ‘Are you sure? “, Stinson said. “Yes!”
Stinson also released the surveillance footage to a local news agency, a move he made after the U.S. Marshals “were late for their appointment.”
Despite surveillance footage and the recovery of the vehicle, Gray said law enforcement initially doubted that Vicky White and Casey White were still in Evansville.
“We remained vigilant,” Gray said. “But what we learned from the marshals was that there was no information that they were still there.”
Cadillac enters the scene
Evidence recovered from the car wash indicated that Casey White and Vicky White left the area on May 3 in a Cadillac sedan.
On Monday afternoon, Gray said, an Evansville police officer spotted a Cadillac outside a hotel near US 41. A brief police chase ensued toward US 41, and U.S. Marshals eventually stuck the Cadillac in a ditch near Baumgart Road.
Casey White was originally in prison for attempted murder, while Vicky White was a corrections officer who allegedly helped him escape. Casey White also allegedly confessed to killing Connie Ridgeway, a 59-year-old mother from Alabama, in 2015.
Officials said they don’t believe Casey White and Vicky White have any connection to the city.
The investigation is ongoing and law enforcement officials said they would release more information as it becomes available.