(NewsNation) — Alabama convict Casey White is on his way back to prison after spending 11 days on the run amid a nationwide man-hunt after correctional officer Vicky White apparently helped him escape from an Alabama jail.
Mark Mershon, the retired head of the FBI offices in New York, told NewsNation’s “Prime” On Tuesday that it was “quite clear” Vicky used her status as a guard to violate jail procedures and get Casey out of jail “without being challenged.”
“I am sure her rank as assistant director of corrections would have been intimidating for subordinates to have said, ‘Hey hold on, this isn’t right,'” Mershon said. “But she got away with it for a little bit.”
Mershon, who worked on the Texas Seven case in 2000 (more on that below), said the top mistake that fugitives make when going on the run is appearing in public — which is what Casey White did, as his appearance at a car wash led to his capture.
“The biggest asset we have is to exploit the media coverage and that certainly is what led to the arrest and the death of Vicky here,” Mershon said. “When you’re 6-foot-9 and over 300 pounds and you’re out in public, you stand out, and that’s what I believe eventually got them identified and caught.”
White’s escape and 11-day escapade as a free man beg the question: Where does his foray into freedom rank among other notorious prison breaks?
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman
The Mexican drug lord famously escaped from Mexican prison not once but twice during his days as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Guzman bribed guards at a maximum-security federal prison in Mexico to aid in his 2001 escape and left the jail in a dirty laundry cart after a guard opened his cell door for him.
El Chapo was a wanted man until 2014, when he was arrested once again, this time hiding out in tunnels under the city of Mazatlan.
In 2015, the cartel mastermind made the impossible happen again when he escaped Mexico’s most secure prison through a tunnel underground. The tunnel had lighting, ventilation, oxygen tanks, and a motorcycle.
He was finally captured again in 2016 and extradited to the United States in 2017. He is currently in a maximum-security prison in Colorado.
One of America’s most infamous serial killers, Ted Bundy, confessed to brutally murdering 30 women in the 1970s. Bundy was sentenced to two death penalties and eventually executed in 1989 at the age of 42.
Before his execution, however, Bundy escaped from custody.
In 1977, Bundy was at a courthouse, unshackled, representing himself in his own case. During a recess from court, Bundy asked if he could go to the courthouse library to research his case.
While out of view from the guards, he jumped from the courthouse’s second-story window, and despite injuring his ankle, was able to make an escape to freedom, albeit temporarily. He was a fugitive for six days before being captured in Aspen, Colorado.
He escaped jail again on Dec. 30, when he piled books and other items under a blanket on his bed, making it look like he was sleeping. He escaped through a light fixture hole in the ceiling and eventually made it to a crawl space and an apartment above the jail. He put on street clothes and walked free.
Bundy murdered three more people, including a 12-year-old girl, while he was on the run, eventually making it to Florida.
Escape from Alcatraz
Three prisoners famously escaped from Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay — supposed to be America’s most inescapable prison — in 1962.
Frank Lee Morris, Clarence Anglin, and John William Anglin managed to escape the island prison despite facing 12 guard checks every day.
The trio put decoy heads, made of soap and plaster, in their beds, fooling guards into thinking they were in their cells. They escaped through a kitchen smokestack and strung 50 raincoats together to make a raft.
They were not recaptured.
All three were convicted, armed robbers.
Six men flee ‘escape-proof’ prison
In Mecklenberg, Virginia, six death row inmates at the “escape-proof” Mecklenburg Correctional Facility managed to find their way to freedom after an elaborate escape plot that included taking guards prisoner.
Brothers James and Linwood Briley, who were believed to have killed 11 people, led the group of six on a daring escape run that lasted three weeks before authorities were able to round the crew back up again.
The inmates were able to overpower a guard in the cell-door control room and open doors to free their fellow conspirators. They then put on guard uniforms and used radios to lure the other guards, whom they locked in the waterworks room.
They then convinced other guards to let them out of the prison by pretending to defuse a bomb on a gurney that, they said, needed to get out of the prison. Really, it was just a TV under a blanket.
Two of the inmates were caught within hours of the escape. Two more were caught in Vermont seven days later. The Brileys were on the run for 20 days before being brought in.
Glen Stewart Godwin
Convicted murderer Glen Stewart Godwin escaped from Folsom State Prison in California in 1980. It is believed his wife and his cellmate helped plan his escape.
Godwin got out through a 1,000-foot storm pipe that ran underneath the prison. It is said “The Shawshank Redemption” is based on that escape.
He then went to Mexico, where he began to participate in the illegal drug trade. He has yet to be captured.
The Texas Seven
A group of seven inmates at a maximum-security prison in South Texas attacked guards in a maintenance shop, stole clothing, guns, and a getaway car before leading authorities on a six-week manhunt.
They left a note that said, “you haven’t heard the last of us yet.”
They went on to commit more crimes, including killing a police officer in Texas and robbing a Radio Shack. They had all been convicted of a variety of violent crimes including murder, rape, and robbery.
A tip from someone who saw them on television led to their capture. The leader of the group, George Rivas, was killed by police with three other escapees, and another killed himself when he was surrounded by authorities. The final two men surrendered to authorities after being surrounded in a hotel.