An accused murderer and a corrections official who disappeared together last week in Alabama had a “special relationship,” according to the sheriff’s office that employed the official.
Authorities are searching for Casey Cole White, who was awaiting trial on a murder charge, and Vicky White, Lauderdale County assistant director of corrections. They were last seen on Friday. The two are not related.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
Friday was to have been Vicky White’s last day on the job before her retirement. She had told colleagues she was taking Casey White to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation ― but no evaluation was actually scheduled.
Vicky White also was transporting Casey White alone, a violation of department policy that requires at least two deputies to assist in transport, according to CBS News.
Casey White faces capital murder charges in the 2015 killing of Connie Ridgeway. Police said he confessed to killing her, claiming he was paid to do so. He was charged while already serving a long prison term for previous offenses that included robbery, burglary, carjacking and animal cruelty for shooting a dog, AL.com reported.
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office released surveillance video that showed the duo leaving the jail together on Friday. The video, published by local news station WAAY 31, shows Vicky White leading Casey White to a patrol car. That patrol car was later found empty in Florence, Alabama — nowhere near the courthouse where they said to have been headed.
Someone reported seeing the pair later on Friday in Rogersville ― roughly 24 miles from Florence ― in an orange Ford Edge SUV that Vicky White had purchased the week before, according to WAAY 31.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said it was apparent Vicky White had “participated” in Casey White’s escape, though it’s not clear whether her involvement was voluntary.
“Now whether she did that willingly or if she was coerced, threatened somehow to participate in the escape, not really sure — but we know for sure that she did participate,” Singleton told reporters at a news conference Monday.
He added that Vicky White had been an “exemplary employee” during her 15 years with the department and that her colleagues were shocked.
“This is not the Vicky White we know, by any stretch of the imagination,” the sheriff said.
Singleton called Casey White an “extremely dangerous” person. U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said at the same press conference that officials are, for now, considering “both of them” to be dangerous.