By Theresa Waldrop, Jamiel Lynch and Rebekah Riess, CNN
Authorities in Alabama are searching for a corrections officer and an inmate charged with murder after they went missing on Friday.
Vicki White, assistant director of corrections for Lauderdale County, took Casey White, the inmate, from jail Friday morning, saying she was taking the prisoner to the county courthouse.
The two, who officials said are not related, have not been seen since, and the US Marshals Service is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the inmate’s capture and the location of the officer, the service said Sunday.
Here’s what we know.
The officer and the inmate left the jail
Vicki White said she was taking Casey White for a mental health evaluation when she checked him out of the jail. She said she was going to get medical care after dropping the inmate off at the courthouse because she wasn’t feeling well.
Authorities found out later that day that no such evaluation — or any court hearing — was scheduled for Casey White that day, and Vicki White never made it to the place where she was to get medical attention, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.
That afternoon, concerned officers at the jail tried to reach Vicki White, but her phone went straight to voice mail. It was then that they found out that Casey White had not been returned to the jail.
Authorities are looking at all possibilities, including whether the corrections officer helped Casey White escape.
“Knowing the inmate, I think she’s in danger whatever the circumstances,” Singleton said Friday.
“He was in jail for capital murder, and he had nothing to lose. Whether she assisted him or not we don’t know, and we won’t address that until we have absolute proof that that’s what happened. We are assuming at this point that she was taken against her will unless we can absolutely prove otherwise. But regardless, even if she did assist him, we think she’s in danger,” Singleton said.
Vicki White’s 2013 Ford Taurus patrol car was spotted in a shopping center parking lot Friday morning, according to the sheriff.
Singleton’s office has looked at all video security footage in the area where the car was spotted, but there is no evidence yet that shows the two getting in another vehicle.
The officer went against policy
In her job as assistant director of corrections, Vicki White coordinates all transports from the detention center to the court, so she knew that protocol called for two sworn deputies to be with Casey White at all times, as he was an inmate with capital murder charges, according to Singleton.
“All precautions were in place,” Singleton said. “The questions we have for Director White is why she violated policy.”
Vicki White is an ‘exemplary employee,’ sheriff said
The corrections officer had been with the sheriff’s office for about two decades and “does a tremendous job,” Singleton told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield Saturday morning.
“All of her co-workers, all the employees in the sheriff’s office, the judges, all have the most utmost respect for her,” Singleton said. “She has an unblemished record. She’s an exemplary employee. So we’re very concerned for her safety.”
Vicki White had recently talked about retiring, Singleton said Friday.
Casey White considered ‘armed and dangerous’
Casey White was serving 75 years for a series of crimes he committed in Limestone County in 2015. The spree included home invasion, carjacking and a police chase, according to the US Marshals Service.
In 2020, he confessed to the 2015 killing of a woman in Rogersville, Alabama, according to Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. White then pleaded not guilty to that crime and was being held at the detention center awaiting trial.
The inmate intended to escape and take a person hostage in 2020, Singleton said, but his plan was discovered and a policy was put in place mandating that two sworn deputies should be with him at all times, including during transportation to court.
Because Vicki White had a 9mm handgun, authorities assume that Casey White, who is 6′ 9″, is now armed and should be considered dangerous, Singleton said.
The US Marshals Service has taken on the case, the service said in a news release announcing a reward up to $10,000. The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are also involved in the investigation, CNN previously reported.
“Casey White is believed to be a serious threat to the corrections officer and the public,” US Marshal Marty Keely said in the release.
“Anyone with information on White’s location or Assistant Director of Corrections White’s disappearance is urged to contact law enforcement,” the release said. “You can call the USMS Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102. Anonymous tips may also be submitted via the U.S. Marshals Tip App.”
“Do not attempt to apprehend this fugitive,” Keely said.
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