In the 10 days after a Lauderdale County, Alabama, jailer facilitated the escape of a capital murder suspect and fled the state with him, their story went from a local report to a national concern.

The saga has more than its share of lurid storybook elements. A 56-year-old female jailer, divorced and alone with retirement ahead, falls for a tall, dark, somewhat handsome and undoubtedly dangerous capital murder suspect 18 years her junior, and the unlikely pair – unrelated but sharing a surname — plot a jailbreak after which they’ll ride off in the sunset. and if need be, they’d go out in a barrage of bullets and a blaze of glory with firearms procured by the jailer as part of the master plan.

Jailer Vicky White’s coworkers had planned a retirement party for the woman they considered as a mother figure, and were puzzled when she didn’t return after leaving with inmate Casey White, purportedly headed for a mental evaluation.

The Lauderdale County sheriff would say he trusted her implicitly. “What in the world provoked or prompted her to pull a stunt like this, I don’t know.”

We’ll likely never know. On Monday, federal marshals tracked the fugitives to an Evansville, Indiana, motel, and intercepted them after Vicky White crashed their vehicle fleeing the marshals. As officers apprehended Casey White, his first remarks were to say his “wife” had shot herself in the head, making it clear that she, and not him, put the bullet in her head.

Now Vicky White is dead, and Casey White may well spend his life behind bars if convicted of the crimes he’s accused of, assuming he isn’t executed.

However, the episode should prompt great reflection in the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department. The staff was apparently unaware of the relationship between the jailer and the inmate, but other prisoners knew, and told officials about special treatment Casey White received for as long as two years.

Hindsight is 20/20, and should prompt the sheriff to establish procedures as a failsafe to the necessary trust in his staff.

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