Florence, AL – A search is underway for the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office’s (LCSO) assistant director of corrections and a murder suspect after they both went missing during a transport from the jail to the courthouse on Friday morning.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton announced Monday morning that a warrant has been issued for 56-year-old LCSO Assistant Director of Corrections Vicky White for first-degree permitting or facilitating an escape.
Assistant Director White was supposedly transporting 38-year-old capital murder suspect Casey White to the courthouse for a hearing at approximately 9:30 a.m. on April 29 when they both disappeared, the sheriff’s office said in a press release on the afternoon of April 29.
The vehicle they left the Lauderdale County Detention Center in was later found abandoned in the parking lot of a local shopping center.
Investigators located security footage that showed Assistant Director White’s department-issued vehicle traveling towards the shopping center just eight minutes after she and Casey White left the jail facility, Sheriff Singleton said on Monday.
The sheriff said the video proved Assistant Director White “didn’t even attempt to get to the courthouse” and that she headed “directly” to the shopping center after leaving the jail.
Assistant Director White was working her final day at the LCSO before her retirement when she disappeared, Sheriff Singleton told reporters.
She recently sold her home and had talked about going to live on the beach.
Investigators said Assistant Director White and Casey White are not related.
“The fact that the two are missing was not realized until approximately 3:30 p.m.,” the LCSO noted on Friday. “Investigators are currently attempting to locate any video that may tell us more about what we’re dealing with.”
Casey White allegedly confessed to the 2015 murder of Connie Ridgeway while he was serving a state prison sentence for other offenses in 2020, the Associated Press reported.
USMS is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the capture of escaped Lauderdale Co. jail inmate, Casey White, and the location of missing and endangered corrections officer, Vicky White. Submit tips at 1-800-336-0102 or https://t.co/vS0w4N9rNp pic.twitter.com/IELaGt310K
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) May 1, 2022
According to Sheriff Singleton, Assistant Director White said she was taking Casey White to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation, but investigators later discovered there was no mental health evaluation scheduled for Casey White the day of the transport.
Assistant Director White had also told her co-workers she had a doctor’s appointment of her own on April 29, but the clinic confirmed she never showed up.
LCSO vans taking other inmates to the courthouse left the jail just minutes before Assistant Director White showed up at the detention center and told one of her subordinates to prepare Casey White for transport, Sheriff Singleton told reporters Monday.
She claimed she was the only person available to transport the capital murder suspect, and that she planned to turn him over to LCSO deputies at the courthouse, the sheriff said.
The sheriff noted that it is a direct violation of LCSO policy for her to transport the inmate alone, the Associated Press reported.
“Our policy is for any inmate with those kinds of charges to have two sworn deputies escort them. And that did not happen,” Sheriff Singleton said.
Assistant Director White was armed with a 9mm duty weapon when she left the jail on the transport.
He said deputies tried to reach the 16-year LCSO veteran on her cell phone numerous times, but that it repeatedly went to voicemail.
Sheriff Singleton confirmed Saturday morning that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) have all joined in the search effort, according to the Associated Press.
Casey Cole White is very dangerous!
Charged with capital murder for brutally slaying a woman in 2015.
— Rose (@901Lulu) May 1, 2022
He noted the LCSO is “aggressively investigating” the incident and that his agency was “shocked” at the possibility that a sheriff’s office official possibly aided in an inmate’s escape, but that they are also concerned she could be in danger.
Assistant Director White submitted her retirement paperwork one day before her disappearance, the Associated Press reported.
She has been an exceptional employee with a stellar record, to include being voted as Supervisor or Employee of the Year by her co-workers for the past seven years, according to WBRC.
Sheriff Singleton said the LCSO has been looking into whether or not Assistant Director White and Casey White had previous interactions prior to their disappearance.
“All indications are that Director White was involved and participated in the escape,” Sheriff Singleton said, according to WBRC. “We are trying to determine was that done willfully, or was she somehow coerced or threatened into participating?”
“I don’t think there’s any question she assisted,” he added, according to the Daily Mail, “but to do it willingly would be so out of character for the Vicky White we all know.”
“Knowing the inmate, I think she’s in danger, whatever the circumstances,” Sheriff Singleton told reporters. “He was in jail for capital murder and he had nothing to lose.”
Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office just released new, recent images of Casey White, saying they continue to work with state and federal agencies in following leads and investigating the escape. Another press conference scheduled for 10 tomorrow morning. @WAAYTV will be there. pic.twitter.com/6och8qmTx4
— Brittany Harry WAAY 31 (@BrittanyHarryTV) May 1, 2022
The USMS is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the “missing and endangered” corrections officer, according to the Associated Press.
The sheriff described Casey White, who is currently serving a 75-year sentence, as a “very dangerous individual,” WBRC reported.
Since Assistant Director White was armed when she and Casey White left the jail, Sheriff Singleton said the murder suspect must be considered “armed and dangerous.”
“The worst thing that could happen would be one of our fellow law enforcements get hurt over this,” he said.