Search for Casey White and Vicky White: Here’s what we’ve learned so far as the search enters its 7th day
“Vicky, you’ve been in this business for 17 years, you’ve seen this scenario play out more than once and you know how it always ends,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said Wednesday on the ABC’s Good Morning America. “Go ahead and get it over with now. Pick up a phone, call 911, walk in and help us get Casey White back behind bars because you know that’s where he’s going to end up eventually.”
Over the past week, authorities have discovered that the officer, 56, and inmate Casey White, 38, were romantically involved and that Vicky White had visited him several times during his off hours while he was in state prison, according to Singleton.
The couple, who are not related, disappeared on Friday morning when the corrections officer said she was taking Casey White to the courthouse before going to see a doctor because she was not feeling well. But the two never showed up at the courthouse and the officer did not go to the medical facility.
In the days following their disappearance, investigators determined that the officer and inmate had a “special relationship” in which Vicky White granted the inmate special privileges, including extra food. The investigation was aided, in part, by inmates who informed officials of the relationship over the weekend.
“Some of the inmates here at our facility have made it known to our investigators that there is a relationship between the two,” Singleton told CNN on Wednesday. “We took their statements, what they said, acted on it and confirmed that in fact there was a relationship there.”
Vicky White, who was due to retire on the day of her disappearance, had also taken significant financial steps before the escape.
She sold her house on April 18 for well below market value. The house sold for $95,550, documents show, but Lauderdale County records show the total parcel value of the house to be $204,700.
Relatives and colleagues say they are stunned by the sudden disappearance of the head of corrections, whom Singleton described as a “model employee” with a “clean record”.
Vicky White has an active warrant for her arrest for enabling or facilitating a first degree escape. She is also no longer employed by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, the office said in a statement Wednesday. While Friday was his last day of work, his retirement papers were never finalized, the office said.
Here are the main developments in the investigation as authorities desperately search for the pair.
The video captures a quick escape
Officials say Vicky White, who was the assistant director of corrections, brazenly violated department policy when she released Casey White from jail Friday morning.
The institution had a policy requiring two sworn deputies to accompany inmates at all times, including during transport to the courthouse. Singleton said the policy was underlined with Casey White after authorities discovered he had a plot to escape police custody and take a hostage in 2020 and discovered a makeshift knife on him.
But that morning, Vicky White asked an officer to prepare Casey White for transport, saying she would take him alone to the courthouse since the other officers had already left for court and she was the only one. officer available with a certified firearm, Singleton said.
Surveillance video shows Casey White, shackled and handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit, being escorted to the back of Vicky White’s patrol vehicle on Friday morning.
The investigation revealed that the couple then drove to a shopping center parking lot less than 10 minutes away, left the patrol car in the parking lot and escaped in a gold-colored Ford Edge SUV or copper with minor damage to the left rear bumper, authorities mentioned.
“We know there was never an effort to get to the courthouse. They drove straight to the parking lot at Florence Square, dumped the patrol car, got into the other vehicle and drove off. “said Singleton.
Relationship started in 2020, says sheriff
Investigators traced the relationship to early 2020, when Casey White was brought to Lauderdale County for a murder arraignment he faces for the 2015 death of 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway, according to the sheriff.
“As far as we know, that was the first physical contact they had,” Singleton said.
It was then that authorities found the homemade prison knife on the inmate and uncovered his escape plan, leading Lauderdale Detention Center to reinforce its policy that he should be accompanied by two deputies at any time while in custody.
Casey White was returned to state prison after arraignment to continue serving a 75-year sentence for a series of crimes he committed in 2015. The sheriff said the officer and inmate had maintained communication, including visits from Vicky White during her off hours.
Casey White was brought back to Lauderdale County Jail in February to attend court hearings related to his murder charges.
During this week’s inquest, inmates said Casey White “got extra food on her trays” and “got privileges that no one else had. And it all came from her,” Singleton said.
Investigation delayed by runway release
Prior to their escape, Vicky White purchased a 2007 Ford Edge SUV in Rogersville, about 25 miles east of Lauderdale County, according to Singleton. The night before she disappeared with Casey White, the officer parked the car in the mall parking lot where the couple would be driving the next day and fleeing in the SUV.
When investigators were finally able to confirm the description of the getaway car on Monday, they intended to send it internally to other law enforcement, but the lead was accidentally made public.
“The car description is what we worked hard on all weekend because we had no idea what kind of vehicle they were going in,” Singleton told CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday night. “We let law enforcement know they needed to be on the lookout and inadvertently one of those agencies sent the description out publicly. That really set us back.”
Singleton said the pair have likely ditched the car now because the description was widely shared.
But investigators collected other leads on the possible location of the detainee and the officer, he said.
“We have multiple councils…especially east of the Mississippi,” the sheriff said, but added that authorities “still have no idea where they are.”
CNN’s Michelle Watson, Jamiel Lynch, Chuck Johnston, Amara Walker, Jade Gordon, Ryan Young, Jaide Timm-Garcia, Tina Burnside