Authorities say the corrections officer and inmate who vanished together last week from a northern Alabama jail had a “special relationship” stemming back at least two years that included prison visits and phone calls.
Assistant Director for Corrections Vicky White, 56, and inmate, Casey White, 38, disappeared Friday after they left together from the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Florence, Ala. The officer said she was escorting the inmate to a courthouse appointment that turned out not to exist, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.
The two individuals are not related. An investigation revealed that the relationship between them extended out of Vicky White’s work hours and included special privileges for Casey White.
Singleton said Vicky White visited the inmate in between his stints at the county detention facility. He said investigators “confirmed that there were visits and there were communications between the two of them while he was at prison and she was still working here.”
On Thursday, the sheriff told WAAY, a local ABC News affiliate, Vicky White stayed in contact with Casey White over the course of two years while he was in prison and serving time at the Alabama Department of Corrections. He said the two also communicated over via phone.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant Monday for the officer, saying she had “participated” in the escape. She faces charges including permitting or facilitating escape of an inmate. She was also fired from her position, Singleton told AL.com Wednesday.
“She’s certainly an accomplice,” Singleton told CNN. “It’s obvious from the evidence we have gathered that…he didn’t kidnap her or force her or anything as far as in the car once they left the facility.”
Who is Vicky White?
Vicky White was assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, where she had worked for 16 years.
Singleton described her as an “exemplary employee” who was “admired and respected by her co-workers and subordinates.” He said the department was shocked by the disappearance, describing the day the two vanished as “like a wake at a funeral” at the detention center.
“This is not the Vicky White we know, by any stretch of the imagination,” Singleton said.
Her mother, Pat Davis, told WAAY she was in shock and disbelief, finding it difficult to believe her daughter would help an inmate escape.
“She’s never done anything,” Davis said. “I bet she’s never even had a speeding ticket.”
Who is Casey White?
Casey White, 38, was serving a 75-year prison sentence for kidnapping and attempted murder charges after he was convicted of trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and kidnapping her two roommates.
He also faces capital murder charges in the 2015 murder-for-hire slaying of Connie Ridgeway after he confessed to the killing while in custody. He was set to go to trial in that case next month.
Singleton has called Casey White “an extremely dangerous” person and authorities have stressed to not approach the pair if spotted.
Casey White stands at 6 foot, 9 inches and weighs about 260 pounds, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. He has brown hair, hazel eyes and tattoos on his back and left shoulder blade, though the authorities have said he may have attempted to change his appearance since the disappearance.
What was inmate’s relationship with prison guard?
The sheriff’s office has referred to the connection between Vicky and Casey White as a “special relationship.”
An investigation that included interviews with other inmates found that Casey White received extra food and other privileges from Vicky White, Singleton told CNN.
“We have confirmed through independent sources and other means that there was in fact a relationship between Casey White and Vicky White outside of her normal work hours,” Singleton said. “Not physical contact, but a relationship of a different nature.”
MORE ON THEIR RELATIONSHIP:Alabama officer Vicky White, escaped inmate Casey White had ‘special relationship,’
Surveillance footage shows inmate, prison guard leaving the jail
Authorities revealed surveillance footage showing Casey White being escorted by Vicky White out of the Lauderdale County Detention Center and into her patrol vehicle.
Singleton said Vicky White transported the inmate alone, in violation of department policy.
Footage shows the pair driving to a parking lot of a Lauderdale County shopping center, where the patrol car was found abandoned later that day.
The two weren’t discovered missing until around 3:30 p.m. Friday, six hours after they had left.
What led up to their disappearance?
Vicky White had turned in paperwork to retire and was working her last day at the sheriff’s office, Singleton said.
Due to the escape and her apparent part in it, she was fired, Singleton told local outlet AL.com Wednesday. He said her termination would bar her from receiving state-funded pension contributions.
She’d also recently sold her home, which sat on a sprawling 4 acres of property. The home sold for $95,500, well below the market value for the area, only 12 days before her disappearance, WAAY reported.
Where could they be?
Police have not yet identified where the two may have gone, but “We do have some leads that may give us that information,” Singleton said.
Singleton said he’d be surprised if the two were still in Alabama. He said she had “talked about going to the beach” after retiring.
The U.S. Marshals Service said the pair might be traveling in a 2007 orange or copper colored Ford Edge with minor damage on the rear left bumper. They may be armed with various weapons, including an AR-15 rifle, the agency said in a statement.
Contributing: Cady Stanton, USA TODAY; Donna Thornton, The Gadsden Times