(FLORENCE, Ala.) — A manhunt is intensifying in Florence, Alabama, for an escaped murder suspect and a corrections officer who have been missing for days.
A warrant has been issued for Lauderdale County assistant director of corrections Vicki White on charges of committing or facilitating an escape, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said at a news conference Monday.
Vicki White “participated” in the escape with inmate Casey White, the sheriff said, adding, “Whether she did that willingly or she was coerced, threatened … not really sure.”
The employee and inmate — who went missing on Friday — are not related.
The sheriff said law enforcement have no idea where they are, but promised, “They will be brought back to justice.”
On Friday morning, Vicki White allegedly told her colleagues that she was taking 38-year-old Casey White to the Lauderdale County Courthouse for a “mental health evaluation,” though no court appearance was scheduled for the inmate, Singleton said. Vicki White violated sheriff’s office policy by escorting Casey White alone, the sheriff said.
Vicki White also allegedly told her colleagues that she was going to seek medical attention after dropping the inmate off at court because she wasn’t feeling well, but Singleton said his office confirmed that no medical appointment was made.
Vicki White had been talking about retiring for the last few months and turned in her paperwork on Thursday, Singleton told ABC News. Friday — the day the two went missing — was set to be her last day at work, he said.
Authorities are reviewing video to see if she spent an extraordinary amount of time at his cell. She had several opportunities each day to be in contact with any inmate, the sheriff said.
Singleton called Vicki White, a 17-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, “an exemplary employee.”
“The employees are just devastated,” the sheriff said. “Nobody saw this coming.”
Casey White is charged with two counts of capital murder in September 2020 for the stabbing of 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway, authorities said. He could face the death penalty if convicted, the sheriff said.
Casey White previously planned an escape from the Lauderdale County Detention Center in the fall of 2020, but officials thwarted the plot before he could attempt it, Singleton said. When officials got word of the plot, they found a homemade knife in his possession and learned that he was planning to take a hostage, the sheriff said. Casey White was subsequently transferred to a state prison, where he remained until early this year, when he returned to the Lauderdale County facility for court appearances related to the murder charge, the sheriff said.
Marty Keely, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama, called this a “major case for the United States Marshal Service.”
Casey White is 6 feet 9 inches tall. Anyone who sees them is urged to call 911, Keely said.
The U.S. Marshals Service is offering up to $10,000 reward for information leading to their capture, Keely said.
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