Authorities on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a missing corrections officer who disappeared with an inmate from a northern Alabama jail last week.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said Vicky White, who disappeared with inmate Casey Cole White Friday morning from the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Florence, Alabama, “participated” in the escape.
“She’s certainly an accomplice,” the sheriff said. “It’s obvious from the evidence we have gathered that this was not – that he didn’t kidnap her or force her or anything as far as in the car once they left the facility,” Singleton said.
But, he added, investigators are keeping an open mind. “She absolutely assisted him. We still don’t know 100% for sure that it was willful, but it’s certainly looking that way,” Singleton said.
The charges against the officer include permitting or facilitating escape of the inmate, Singleton said.
The U.S. Marshals Service was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the inmate and the location of the “missing and endangered” corrections officer. The pair planned to travel to a local courthouse when they vanished. Police say the two are not related.
Casey White, 38, was serving time after being convicted on kidnapping and attempted murder charges. While being held, he also confessed to the 2015 killing of a woman who was stabbed to death in her home.
“Casey White, as you’ve heard me say over and over and over is an extremely dangerous person and we need to get him located and get him off the street,” Singleton said Monday. “Don’t take any chances with him. He’s extremely dangerous.”
The pair wasn’t discovered missing until 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, six hours after they left the jail. The police vehicle they left in was found in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center.
Here’s what we know.
What are police saying?
Vicky White was armed when she left the jail with Casey White for a mental health evaluation for Casey at a courthouse Friday morning, Sheriff Rick Singleton said at a press conference Friday.
But no mental health evaluation was scheduled at the courthouse for Casey White that day, Singleton said.
He said the inmate was handcuffed and shackled when he and the officer left the jail Friday. Singleton said the officer was transporting the inmate alone – a violation of department policy. The policy was instituted when White was jailed two years ago and authorities believed he was planning to escape.
Deputies had attempted to contact the officer once they realized she and the inmate were missing, but her phone repeatedly went to voicemail.
Singleton said video showed the pair left the jail and went straight to the parking lot where the officer’s vehicle was found.
It is not clear whether the incident was an attempted escape, or if Vicky White was possibly overpowered and kidnapped, according to Singleton. He said investigators are trying determine whether there were any previous significant interactions between the pair.
Who is Casey Cole White?
Casey White was sentenced in 2019 to 75 years in prison after being convicted of two counts of first-degree kidnapping and attempted murder, according to a report from The News Courier in Athens, Alabama.
White also confessed to the killing of Connie Ridgeway, 58, and was set to go to trial next month in the case. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Ridgeway was stabbed to death in her home in 2015.
He stands at 6-foot, 9-inches and weighs about 260 pounds, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. He has brown hair, hazel eyes and has tattoos on his back and left shoulder blade.
At the Monday press conference, authorities said he may have attempted to change his appearance but his height and build make him easy to identify.
He is believed to be a “serious threat to the corrections officer and the public,” according to Marty Keely, the U.S. marshal for northern Alabama. Authorities advised residents not to approach him if he is spotted.
Who is Vicky White?
Vicky White worked as assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and has been with the department for 16 years. Singleton described her as an “exemplary employee.”
White was working her last day at the Sheriff’s office Friday, having turned in paperwork to retire, Singleton said Monday. He also said she had sold her home around a month ago and “talked about going to the beach.”
The sheriff said they were shocked by the events that transpired.
“This is not the Vicky White we know, by any stretch of the imagination,” the sheriff said.
Singleton said fellow jail employees were “just devastated.”
The Marshals Service said people with information about Casey White’s location or Vicky White’s disappearance can call 1-800-336-0102. Anonymous tips can also be submitted through the U.S. Marshals Tip App.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Miranda Prescott, The Gadsden Times