The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama, as well as state and federal agencies, are searching for one of its corrections directors and an inmate – charged with capital murder – who went missing Friday morning.
At a Friday press conference streamed by WHNT, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said Assistant Director of Corrections Vicki White, an employee of the LCSO for 25 years, left the detention center with inmate Casey White at approximately 9:41 a.m. for an “alleged mental health evaluation” at the courthouse. Though the pair share a last name, they are not related, the LCSO noted in a release.
The sheriff noted that Deputy White had told the booking officer at the detention center she would drop the inmate off with deputies at the courthouse and then seek out medical attention as she was feeling under the weather.
Shortly after 11:00 a.m., her patrol vehicle was spotted at a shopping mall by an LCSO employee on his or her lunch break, Singleton said. However, it was not discovered that Deputy White and the inmate were missing until about 3:30 p.m., when the booking officer attempted to contact the corrections director, only to reach her voicemail, according to Singleton. The officer then reached out to the LCSO’s other corrections director to share that he could not contact Deputy White.
At that point, the LCSO began to investigate the situation aggressively.
Singleton confirmed that a mental health evaluation was not scheduled for inmate White and that Deputy White never arrived at an urgent care facility as she had planned.
When asked if White was alone when she retrieved the inmate, Singleton confirmed that’s she was, adding that she violated the LCSO’s policy:
Our policy is any inmate under those charges are to have two sworn deputies escort them and that did not happen. Now, Director White was over the operations of the detention center. She coordinates all of the transports from the detention center to the court, and so forth, so I’m sure her subordinates didn’t question her when she told them she was bringing him to court for a mental health evaluation.
Singleton noted that every LCSO employee is shocked by her disappearance and said she has been an ideal employee during her tenure with the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff said investigators are probing all angles.
“Did she assist him in escaping? That’s a possibility. So we’re looking into that as one angle of the investigation. Was she kidnapped en route to the courthouse, taken against her will? That’s obviously another angle we’re looking at,” Singleton explained.
Investigators are scouring inmate White’s jail logs and phone conversations to see if the incident was planned, as well as canvassing the shopping center where her vehicle was located and looking at footage to see if they transferred into another automobile, Singleton said.
He noted that Deputy White had a 9mm handgun on her person at the time of their disappearance, so law enforcement is assuming that the accused murderer is now in possession of inmate White, who is “considered armed and extremely dangerous.”
White stands about 6’9, the LCSO said at the press conference. His capital murder charge is for his alleged murder “of Connie Ridgeway at her Rogersville home in 2015,” WVTM reported. He was also charged with first-degree burglary.
The sheriff confirmed Saturday that the FBI, U.S. Marshalls, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency were aiding in the investigation, WHNT noted.