BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Like many people around the country, Stan Brooks was obsessed with the story of a corrections officer in north Alabama who went on the run with an inmate she helped break out.
Last spring, Brooks was shooting a movie when news reports began covering how Vicky White, a corrections officer at the Lauderdale County Jail, had helped Casey White, an inmate who was already serving a murder sentence, escape from jail. From April 29 to May 9, 2022, the Whites were on the run, ultimately being cornered in Evansville, Indiana, where Vicky White took her own life and Casey White was arrested and brought back to Alabama.
“This is not the Vicky White we know,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said at the time.
From Day 1, Brooks was mesmerized by the story.
“A day or two after it went national, we were following it like crazy,” Brooks said. “It was the number one story in the newspaper.”
Another person who followed the saga of Vicky and Casey White was Wendi McLendon-Covey, an actress best known for her work in “Reno 911” and “The Goldbergs,” who felt an immediate connection to the story and thought it should be a movie.
“She was watching it on television the day it happened,” Brooks said. “She called Lifetime and said ‘I look like this woman, and I want to do this.'”
Before long, McClendon-Covey, Brooks and Lifetime were able to put together what would become “Bad Romance: The Vicky White Story,” which will premiere Saturday on the network. In the movie, which Brooks directed, McLendon-Covey plays Vicky White while Rossif Sutherland plays Casey White.
In the movie, Vicky White is shown living an uneventful, unfulfilling life as a corrections officer. In reality, she was only a few months away from retirement when she ran off with Casey White. In fact, the day she broke him out was the last day she was scheduled to work.
“She felt like she was in this hamster-wheel routine. She thought her life was meaningless,” he said. “She felt like this (escaping with Casey White) was her one chance, to wish on a star and her wish came true.”
Casey White, who was initially indicted in Vicky White’s death before taking a plea deal in the escape, told a judge he truly loved White and that they wanted to start a new life together.
Despite the sensational aspects of a romantic relationship between a prison guard and a prisoner, much like what was captured in productions like the 2018 Showtime miniseries “Escape at Dannemora,” Brooks said it was important for everyone involved in “Bad Romance” that the story not fall into melodrama but capture what seemed to be real love between Vicky and Casey White, in addition to honoring her life.
“We wanted to emphasize that this was a romantic gesture,” he said. “We felt compelled to honor both her memory and also him. We believe he truly cared for her and we wanted to make sure that we were honest about that.”
This is not the first time the prison break has been adapted for TV. Months after the escape, Tubi released a movie called “Prisoner of Love.” Brooks said that with “Bad Romance,” he wants to make sure that people get to look beyond the headlines on what Vicky and Casey White’s time together was really like.
“I think we get to pull the curtain back on their relationship, how they fall in love,” he said.
“Bad Romance” will premiere at 7 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime.