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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA — Authorities in Lauderdale County, Alabama, are searching for a corrections officer and an inmate charged with murder who went missing Friday morning.
Vicky White, assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, and inmate Casey White were last seen about 9:30 a.m. Friday when she removed him from the jail, supposedly to take him to the county courthouse for a mental evaluation, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said. The officer and the inmate are not related.
Vicky White told a guard she was going to drop off Casey White at the courthouse and seek medical care because she wasn’t feeling well.
No mental evaluation was scheduled for Friday and Casey White was never dropped off at the courthouse, Singleton said. Vicky White didn’t make it to the location where she said she was going to seek medical attention.
Her vehicle, a 2013 Ford Taurus patrol car, was spotted in a shopping center parking lot around 11 a.m. Friday by someone who was on a lunch break, Singleton said.
Authorities didn’t realize they were missing until several hours later.
Officers at the jail became concerned and tried to reach her, but her phone kept going straight to voicemail. They then realized Casey White had not been returned to the jail.
Casey White is 6-foot-9 and considered armed and dangerous. Vicky White “was armed with a 9mm handgun, which means we are assuming he is armed,” Singleton added.
“Knowing the inmate, I think she’s in danger whatever the circumstances. He was in jail for capital murder, and he had nothing to lose,” Singleton said.
Corrections officer knew the protocol on prisoner transport
Casey White, 38, is a state prisoner serving 75 years for a crime spree he committed in Limestone County in 2015, Singleton said. He was being held at the detention center in Lauderdale County, in the state’s northwest corner, for hearings related to a 2015 homicide in which he has been charged.
In 2020, Casey intended to escape and take a person hostage but his plan was discovered, the sheriff said. A policy was put in place mandating that two sworn deputies should be with him at all times, including during transportation to court, he said.
Vicky White coordinates all transports from the detention center to court and therefore knew the protocol, the sheriff said.
Authorities are now looking at all possibilities of what happened, including if the corrections officer helped Casey White escape.
Speaking with CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday morning, Singleton said his office is approaching the case from three angles: Whether Vicky White was overpowered and kidnapped; whether she assisted inmate Casey White in escaping; and if she assisted him, whether she did so willingly or was coerced or threatened to do so.
“Whether she assisted him or not, we don’t know, and we won’t address that until we have absolute proof that that’s what happened. We are assuming at this point that she was taken against her will, unless we can absolutely prove otherwise,” Singleton said Friday.
Authorities said they are still searching and investigating any interaction between the corrections officer and Casey White, as well as any phone calls he had received.
Video security footage from the area where Vicky White’s car was found has not shown the two getting into another vehicle.
Vicky White ‘an exemplary employee’
Vicky White has been employed with the sheriff’s office for about two decades and “does a tremendous job,” Singleton said Saturday.
“All of her co-workers, all the employees in the sheriff’s office, the judges, all have the most utmost respect for her,” Singleton said. “She has an unblemished record. She’s an exemplary employee. So we’re very concerned for her safety.”
Casey White had been charged in slaying
Casey White confessed in 2020 to killing Connie Ridgeway in 2015, according to Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. However, White pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.
Ridgeway’s son, Austin Williams, told CNN her killing was “a total shock” to the family.
For years, Williams and his brother worked to keep Ridgeway’s memory alive, offering a reward for any information leading to the arrest of her killer.
“We were pretty much her world. She was a really nice person, kind of friends with everybody; never met a stranger kind of person,” Williams said.
Williams says White’s trial had been rescheduled because of Covid-19 delays.
“I see a very troubled person,” Williams said. “You want someone to be able to be rehabilitated, but at this point it’s someone who is just very, very troubled and just needs to be put away from human society.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the first name of corrections officer Vicky White.
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