An Alabama corrections officer and inmate charged with capital murder have disappeared after the officer claimed she was taking him for a mental health evaluation.
Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Deputy Director of Corrections Vicki White and suspected killer Casey Cole White disappeared without a trace Friday morning after being released from the local jail together, according to authorities.
The sheriff’s office said Ms. White, who is not related to the inmate, picked him up from the detention center around 9:30 a.m. claiming she was taking him for a mental health evaluation at the Lauderdale County courthouse.
She told her co-workers that once she had escorted him to court, she would seek medical attention for her because she was not feeling well.
They never made it to court and neither the prison officer nor the inmate has been seen since.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said at a news conference Friday that they have since learned there was no mental health evaluation or court date scheduled for Mr. White on Friday.
Ms. White’s 2013 Ford Taurus patrol car was found abandoned in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center around 11 a.m. Friday, the sheriff said.
But the alarm was only raised several hours later, around 3:30 pm, when Mrs. White’s co-workers became concerned that she had not returned and could not reach her by phone.
It was only then that they also realized that Mr. White had not returned to jail either.
A search is now underway to locate the couple and the sheriff warns that the corrections officer is “in danger”.
“Knowing the inmate, I think she is in danger whatever the circumstances,” he said.
“I was in jail for capital murder and had nothing to lose.”
Officials assume Mr. White is now armed with the corrections officer’s 9mm handgun and urge the public not to approach the “extremely dangerous” fugitive but to call 911 if they see him.
Sheriff Singleton said that Mrs. White, who coordinates all inmate transportation, broke protocol by taking the inmate out of jail alone.
Due to the seriousness of the charges against Mr. White, it is policy that he must be escorted by two sworn deputies at all times, including when being transported to and from the courthouse.
However, officials said they are keeping an open mind about the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and said they are exploring all possibilities, including the possibility that Mrs. White was kidnapped or helped the inmate escape.
“Whether or not she helped him, we don’t know, and we won’t address it until we have absolute proof that that’s what happened,” the sheriff said.
“We assume at this point that she was abducted against her will, unless we can prove absolutely otherwise.”
Mrs. White has been “an exemplary employee” for the department for the past 25 years and had been talking about retiring soon, the sheriff said.
White was being held on capital murder charges in the 2015 slaying of 58-year-old mother Connie Ridgeway.
Ms. Ridgeway was found stabbed to death in her apartment in Rogersville, Alabama, on October 23, 2015.
The case went unsolved for five years until White, already behind bars after being convicted of a crime spree in both Alabama and Tennessee, sent authorities a letter confessing to the crime.
In 2020, White was charged with two counts of capital murder.