The Alabama sheriff’s office issued an alert Friday night after an inmate and deputy director of corrections went missing earlier that day. Authorities said the inmate, who was being held on capital murder charges, should be considered “armed and extremely dangerous.”
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton told reporters Friday night that Vicki White, a 25-year veteran of the department, walked out of the local detention center with Casey Cole White at 9:41 a.m. He said that he told other officials that he would drop him off at the courthouse for a mental health evaluation and then seek medical attention because he was not feeling well. Despite having the same last name, the two are not related.
Shortly after 11 am, someone found his squad car in a shopping center parking lot. At 3:30 pm, officials realized that no one had been able to contact her and that the inmate had not been returned to custody.
Singleton said that after speaking with the court, officials confirmed that no mental health evaluation was scheduled. He also said his decision to take the inmate to court alone was “a strict violation of policy,” since someone accused of such a serious crime should have been accompanied by two officers. Because Vicki was in charge of courthouse transportation, she said, it’s likely that none of her subordinates would feel comfortable challenging her for noncompliance with policy.
“She has been an employee for 25 years, and I can tell you that every employee in this office is shocked that she is missing and that this has happened,” Singleton said. “We are in disbelief, she has been an exemplary employee.”
Although the circumstances may seem suspicious, Singleton said he would want hard evidence before accusing Vicki White of any wrongdoing. He said that White had been chosen employee of the year several times and that she was well liked and respected. He also said that she was eligible for retirement and that she had discussed leaving the department for months.
“Obviously, you know, we’re looking at it from all angles,” he said. “She helped him escape? That’s obviously a possibility. So we’re looking into that as one angle of the investigation. Was she kidnapped on the way to court? You know, taken against her will? That’s obviously another angle you’re looking at”.
Singleton said Vicki was armed with a 9mm pistol before she disappeared, leading investigators to believe Casey is now armed. He described Casey as “extremely dangerous” and urged residents to stay away from him and call 911 instead.
“Right now our hope and prayer is that we catch him before anyone gets hurt,” he said.
Asked if he thinks Vicki is in danger, Singleton said: “I think she is in danger regardless of the circumstances.”
“He was in jail for capital murder and, you know, he has nothing to lose,” he added.