A search is underway after an Alabama prison official went missing Friday while escorting an inmate charged with capital murder. Two years ago, the same inmate had threatened to escape prison with a hostage.
According to a Facebook post from Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama, Assistant Director of Corrections Vicky White disappeared while escorting inmate Casey White, MyPanhandle.com reported. The two are not related.
The 56-year-old official left the detention center on Friday morning to take the 38-year-old prisoner for a mental health evaluation. However, the patrol vehicle that the pair were using was found at a nearby shopping center.
Sheriff Rick Singleton said on Saturday morning that moving an inmate alone is not permitted. “Our policy is for any inmate with those kinds of charges to have two sworn deputies escort them. And that did not happen,” he explained.
Casey White was also not scheduled for a mental health evaluation. Vicky White, however, told colleagues that she had been scheduled for a doctor’s appointment of her own, to which she never showed.
Singleton said it is not clear whether Vicky White helped the inmate escape or whether she had been kidnapped. However, White had been voted employee of the year multiple times and was respected in the office.
“Obviously, you know, we’re looking at all angles,” Singleton said, according to CBS News. “Did she assist him in escaping? That’s obviously a possibility. So we’re looking into that as one angle of the investigation. Was she kidnapped en route to the courthouse? You know, taken against her will? That’s obviously another angle we’re looking at.”
“I think she’s in danger, whatever the circumstances,” Singleton added.
Because Vicky White was armed with a 9mm gun before her disappearance, investigators are assuming that Casey White is now armed. Singleton urged residents to call 911 if he is sighted.
Singleton confirmed on Saturday morning that the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) are “assisting and have made all their resources available to us,” according to AL.com.
Casey White confessed in 2020 to fatally stabbing Connie Ridgeway five years earlier. The woman’s body was found by a neighbor after the neighbor noticed Ridgeway had not been seen that day, The News Courier reported. The inmate claimed he was paid to carry out the murder.
“That aspect of the investigation remains under investigation,” Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly said at the time. “The indictment is an accusation. Mr. White is presumed innocent of the charges.”
“We appreciate your patience with this investigation,” Connolly added. “I remember each year, going out to the Justice for Connie Ridgeway memorial held each October, where we endeavored to ensure that not only was the memory of Connie not lost in the community, but that we kept alive the fact that her murderer was still out there.”
Two years ago, White had made a shank and intended to escape with a hostage, Connolly said, according to WAFF 48. Before White was arraigned in October 2020, prison officials found two shanks in the shower belonging to him.