(CNN) — As the search continues for a fugitive inmate and the Alabama corrections officer who disappeared with him, new details are emerging about the pair’s relationship and the officer’s apparent preparations for their getaway.
The investigation has illuminated what authorities believe to be a romantic relationship between Vicky White, assistant director of corrections in Lauderdale County, and Casey White, who was being held at the Lauderdale County Detention Facility on murder charges, Sheriff Rick Singleton told CNN.
A warrant has been issued for Vicky White’s arrest on charges of permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree, the sheriff said Monday.
Vicky White, 56, and Casey White, 38, who are not related, went missing Friday morning after she said she was taking him to the courthouse before going to seek medical attention because she wasn’t feeling well. The two never arrived at the courthouse and Vicky White didn’t show up at the medical facility.
Authorities now believe the inmate and officer had a romantic relationship as early as 2020, when Casey White, who was already serving time in a state prison, was brought to Lauderdale County for an arraignment, Singleton said.
Singleton said the pair continued to communicate after Casey White was transferred back the prison.
The “special relationship” was confirmed, in part, by inmates at the detention facility who told investigators Casey White “was getting extra food on his trays” and “was getting privileges no one else got and this was all coming from her,” the sheriff said.
Vicky White is a recent widow, her husband having died in January of this year of complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Video released by the detention center Tuesday shows Casey White, handcuffed and in an orange jumpsuit, being escorted to the back of Vicky White’s patrol car around 9:30 a.m. Friday.
From there, Singleton says, the pair drove to a shopping center less than 10 minutes away, abandoned the patrol car and got into a copper-colored 2007 Ford Edge SUV. It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. that jail staff realized they were missing.
Vicky White bought the car in the town of Rogersville and left it in the shopping center’s parking lot the night before their disappearance, Singleton said.
“We know that there was never any effort to go to the courthouse. They went straight to Florence Square parking lot, dumped the patrol car, got in the other vehicle and left,” Singleton said.
“We assume they are going to ditch that car at the first opportunity when they get wind that the description is out there, so we’re back to square one,” he added.
Investigators have also offered more details on Casey White’s history at the Lauderdale County facility.
While being held there in 2020 for his arraignment on murder charges related to the 2015 death of 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway, authorities discovered he had a plan to escape and take a hostage and had a makeshift knife on him.
Upon the discovery, Casey White was transferred back to the state prison where he was already serving a 75-year sentence for a number of crimes in 2015.
The jail had a policy mandating two sworn deputies accompany inmates at all times, including during transportation to the courthouse — and “we emphasized that policy with him” after the escape plot was uncovered, Singleton said.
Casey White returned to the Lauderdale County Detention Facility in February to attend court hearings in his capital murder case.
Friday morning, Vicky White ordered that Casey White be prepared for transport, telling the booking officer that since other officers had already left for court and she was the only officer available with a certified firearm, she was going to take him to the courthouse alone, the sheriff said.
“She just informed the booking officer that she was going to carry him to the courthouse and drop him off, which was a flagrant violation of policy. But I’m sure because it was her boss, the booking officer didn’t question it,” Singleton said.
The sheriff has described the 6-foot-9 Casey White as “an extremely dangerous person” and cautioned people not to approach him if they see him and call police instead.
Authorities are assuming Casey White is armed because Vicky White was armed. The U.S. Marshals Service warned Tuesday they may have an AR-15 rifle and a shotgun.
Vicky White sold her home about a month ago and was scheduled to retire Friday after nearly two decades with the department, Singleton has said. Though she presumably has money from the home sale, her retirement fund paperwork has not been processed.
The disappearance and emerging details about the woman described as being “a model employee” with “an unblemished record” have left her family and coworkers in a state of disbelief.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly last spoke with her the day before she disappeared and said he was “absolutely stunned” to learn of the situation, describing the officer as “the most solid person at the jail.”
“I am so disappointed in her,” he said. “She was trusted, and she exploited that trust.”
Vicky White’s mother, with whom she had been living for the past five weeks after selling her home, said she never heard her daughter mention Casey White and was shocked to find out she had gone missing with an accused murderer.
“As a mother, I didn’t know how to act because I thought at first it was a mistake. And then when I found out for sure it was, it was just disbelief,” Pat Davis told CNN affiliate WAAY.
The Marshals Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the location of the fugitive inmate and up to $5,000 for the missing officer.
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Source: Orange County Register