The Alabama sheriff’s office issued an alert Friday night after an inmate and an assistant director of corrections went missing earlier in the day. Authorities said the inmate, who was being held on charges of premeditated murder, should be considered “armed and extremely dangerous”.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton told reporters Friday night that Vicki White, a 25-year-old veteran of the department, left the local detention center with Casey Cole White at 9:41 a.m. Court for mental health evaluation and then was seeking medical attention because she was not feeling well. Despite having the same last name, the two are not related.
Just after 11 a.m., someone found their patrol car in the parking lot of a shopping center. At 3:30 p.m., officials learned that no one had been able to contact her, and that female guests had not been returned to custody.
Singleton said that after speaking to the court, officials confirmed that there had been no scheduled mental health assessment. He also said that her decision to bring the inmate to the courtroom alone was a “severe violation of policy,” as a person accused of a serious crime had to be accompanied by two deputies. Since Vicki was in charge of transportation in the courtroom, he said, none of her subordinates would likely feel comfortable challenging her about a policy violation.
“She’s been an employee for 25 years, and I can tell you that every employee in this office is shocked that she’s missing and that this has happened,” Singleton said. “We’re just in disbelief, she was a perfect employee.”
Although the circumstances may seem suspicious, Singleton said he wanted hard evidence before charging Vicki White with any wrongdoing. He said White was named Employee of the Year multiple times, and was well liked and respected. He also said she was eligible for retirement, and had discussed leaving the department for several months.
“Obviously, you know, we’re looking at all angles,” he said. “Did you help him escape? That’s obviously a possibility. So we’re looking at that as one angle of the investigation. Was she kidnapped on her way to court? You know, she was taken against her will? That’s obviously another angle we’re looking at.”
Singleton said Vicki was armed with a 9mm pistol before she disappeared, leading investigators to assume Casey was now armed. He called Casey “extremely dangerous” and urged residents not to approach him and call 911 instead.
“Right now our hope and prayer is that we get it before someone gets infected,” he said.
When asked if he thought Vicky was in danger, Singleton said, “I think she’s in danger no matter what.”
He added, “He’s been in prison for premeditated murder, and he has nothing to lose, you know.”