Evansville, IN – The local man who helped escapee Casey White and former Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Assistant Director of Corrections Vicky White get a motel room in Indiana was a homeless convicted sex offender who claimed he didn’t recognize the fugitive couple.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding said on Monday that investigators had identified 51-year-old Shawn Eugene Gardner from the register at Motel 41 located on U.S. 41 in Evansville, the Courier & Press reported.
Sheriff Wedding said Gardner met the Whites on May 3 when he was leaving a motel on Fares Avenue.
The sheriff said Gardner told investigators that he didn’t recognized the couple as the fugitive pair that was headlining the news, the Courier & Press reported.
Sheriff Wedding said Gardner had to show his driver’s license to book the hotel room.
Gardner told police he was paid $100 by the Whites for his trouble, the Courier & Press reported.
The sheriff said Gardner, who is a convicted sex offender, hadn’t been arrested for his role in helping the accused murderer and the former jail official who helped him escape from the Lauderdale County jail in Alabama because he hadn’t done anything illegal.
However, he was taken into custody on unrelated charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe, and being a habitual offender, according to the Courier & Press.
In 2003, Gardner pleaded guilty to the attempted rape of an 80-year-old woman he was accused of having raped and robbed and threatened to kill in her home.
Court records showed he was sentenced to 10 years in prison with credit for 150 days served, the Courier & Press reported.
The fugitive couple needed Gardner’s help to rent Room 150 in Evansville after the jail official helped the convicted violent offender escape because Casey White didn’t have any identification and Vicky White’s name and picture had been shared nationwide.
The motel’s manager told authorities that the Whites had been visiting a local man who was registered at the hotel, the Courier & Press reported.
“[The Whites] were not officially registered guests here,” Motel 41 manager Paul Shah said. “Somebody else checked in and they were visiting those people.”
Shah said the room was still occupied by the person who rented it, the Courier & Press reported.
But Sheriff Wedding said that Gardner has claimed that he never actually went into Room 150.
The sheriff said deputies worked with the Evansville Police Department (EPD) to track down Gardner after he was identified from the motel registration records, the Courier & Press reported.
EPD Sergeant Anna Gray said a sheriff’s detective asked officers to keep an eye out for the homeless man and an officer spotted Gardner in short order.
Sgt. Gray said it wasn’t that hard to find the homeless man, the Courier & Press reported.
“We get that quite often. You know, the officers on the street, they get to know a lot of the homeless people out there, and they know where they stay and know them by sight,” she explained.
“So it’s just a matter of, ‘Yeah, I recognize him. I know he hangs out at this area, so I’ll be on the lookout for him.’ They just got lucky enough to find him,” Sgt. Gray told the Courier & Press.
The 11-day manhunt came to an end on May 9 when a U.S. marshal crashed his car into the suspects’ Cadillac, causing it to flip over and land in a ditch.
Casey White surrendered to authorities when he was removed from the crashed vehicle, CNN reported.
“Please help my wife. She just shot herself in the head, and I didn’t do it,” Casey White said, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Vicky White was pinned in the vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, CNN reported.
She died in the hospital at about 7 p.m. on May 9.
Authorities have said they do not believe Vicky White and Casey White were ever married, CNN reported.
The coroner later confirmed that Vicky White’s gunshot wound was self-inflicted.
Authorities believe Casey White and Vicky White swapped the sheriff’s patrol vehicle that they left the jail in on April 29 for the Ford SUV at a shopping plaza located about eight minutes away before fleeing the area.
Vicky White was supposedly transporting the capital murder defendant to the courthouse for a hearing when they both disappeared, the sheriff’s office said in a press release on the afternoon of April 29.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton released a statement on Thursday that said Vicky White had been in contact with Casey White for two years while he was incarcerated in a state prison in Donaldson, WVTM reported.
Casey White was serving a sentence of 75 years for violent crime convictions.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly told ABC News that investigators had determined that Vicky White withdrew about $90,000 in cash from area banks prior to helping Casey White escape.
Vicky White had filed her retirement papers with the sheriff’s department a day before she disappeared with Casey White.
Court records showed she sold her house far below market value on April 18, NBC News reported.
Vicky White was initially charged with first-degree permitting or facilitating an escape.