An arrest warrant was issued Monday for a Florence, Alabama, corrections officer who went missing with a murder suspect as authorities continue their search for them.
Lauderdale County Sheriff's Assistant Director of Corrections Vicki White went missing with inmate Casey Cole White on Friday morning after telling colleagues that she was escorting him to a court appearance that was, in fact, never scheduled. Authorities have said that the two of them are not related.
Law enforcement officials initially said they were exploring whether the officer was assisting Casey White or was kidnapped en route to the courthouse. However, Sheriff Rick Singleton said at a Monday press conference that they believe the pair orchestrated the escape.
"We know she participated. Whether she did that willingly or if she was coerced — threatened, somehow — to participate in this escape. Not really sure, but we know for sure that she did participate," Singleton told reporters.
A longtime employee with the corrections department, Vicki White had informed colleagues that she was going to take Casey White to a scheduled court appearance for a mental health evaluation on Friday morning and then go to a medical appointment because she was not feeling well.
Vicki White violated protocols that require two deputies to escort inmates to court appearances, Singleton said. On Friday, there were two vans scheduled to ferry inmates to court, and after the second one left, she told an officer to prepare Casey White for transport. She then informed a booking officer that she was "the only available person certified to carry arms to transport" and that she would drop Casey White off at the courthouse with the other deputies before leaving for her medical appointment, the sheriff said.
"The booking officer didn't question it; after all, it's her boss," Singleton said.
They did not show up at the courthouse or return to the detention center that day, Singleton said on Friday. Investigators have determined that there was no court appearance or mental health evaluation scheduled for Casey White, and they believe the medical appointment Vicki White said she was going to was also fabricated.
"She's been in corrections for 17 years, so she has knowledge that the general citizen would not have. I think that certainly played in her favor as far as getting him out of jail like she did," Singleton said.
Casey White was serving time at the Lauderdale County Detention Center when he was found to be plotting an escape in fall 2020. He was transferred to state prison, where he confessed to killing 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway in 2015, and was charged with two counts of capital murder, ABC News reported.
He was transferred back to Lauderdale County Detention Center so that he could attend scheduled court appearances between February and May this year related to the capital murder charges, Singleton said, and he was slated to return to state prison after that.
The sheriff said Vicki White had been talking about retirement in the past few months. She sold her home about a month ago, he said, and "talked about going to the beach." The day she disappeared with Casey White was supposed to be her last day at work before retirement, according to Singleton.
"Those of us who worked with Vicki White and have worked with her for years, this is not the Vicki White we know by any stretch of the imagination," he said, describing her as an "exemplary employee."
Singleton said he's been in contact with Vicki White's two sons.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office is working with the US Marshals Service in their search for Vicki White and Casey White. The Marshals Service is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to their capture.