The story of Casey White and Vicky White feels all too familiar to Toby Dorr, a woman who said she knows exactly what that corrections officer is going through.
“People were saying we really don’t know what happened, and I thought, ‘I know exactly what happened,'” Dorr said.
That’s because Dorr did the very same thing in 2006. She was married and running a volunteer dog-training program at Lansing Correctional Institution when she met John Manard, who was serving a life sentence for a deadly carjacking.
“When you create a situation having female officers or volunteers with male inmates, all it takes is for that one officer or volunteer to just be a little bit nicer at that moment to an inmate and things just take off from there,” Dorr explained.
Dorr got Manard out of the prison in a dog crate and they went on the run, hoping to create a life together.
“I fell in love with John and I know he was in love with me, but we didn’t really know each other,” Dorr said.
Dorr said red flags — regarding Manard’s temper — started to pop up, but she never considered turning the inmate in. She said she now fears for Vicky White’s safety.
“When you are living on the run like that, it’s kind of a powder keg. You’re always just looking over your shoulder expecting something to happen every minute, so you are on edge all the time.”
Dorr and Manard lived in a cabin in Tennessee for most of their 12 days on the run. She wasn’t ready for their time together to be over when it came to a dramatic end.
“When we came up over a hill, the whole interstate was just filled with police vehicles,” Dorr recalled.
A chase ensued, at times topping 100 miles per hour, and ended with the couple smashing into a tree. Dorr was sentenced to 27 months in prison for aiding the escape.
She spent most of her time in the area after her release, only recently moving out of the state. She’s remarried, and both she and her husband have visited her former lover in prison, where he’s serving a life sentence — plus an additional 10 years for the escape.
“Chris is my husband. Chris and I both consider John a friend still to this day,” Dorr said.
Dorr has since turned to writing, hoping to help other women who feel locked in their own “prisons.”
“When you are in an emotional prison, you don’t make good decisions. The whole purpose of these workbooks is to help women escape their emotional prisons,” she said.
Dorr said she’d never help an inmate escape again, but the lessons she learned in prison and rebuilding her life were priceless.