An arrest warrant has been issued for a missing Alabama corrections officer now believed to have assisted a jailed murder suspect escape custody four days ago, authorities confirmed on Monday.
At a press conference, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton confirmed an arrest warrant has been issued for 56-year-old Assistant Director of Corrections Vicky White on a charge of permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.
"We know she participated – now whether she did that willing or if she was coerced, threatened somehow to have participated in this escape, not really sure," he told reporters Monday. "But we know for sure she did participate."
Investigators obtained new video showing the patrol vehicle in which White and inmate Casey White left the detention center in on Friday morning, Singleton said.
The video shows the patrol vehicle stop at an intersection just eight minutes after leaving the jail, indicating they never headed to the courthouse before abandoning the vehicle in a nearby parking lot. Singleton said investigators are working to verify several tips on what kind of vehicle the pair is believed to have switched into. The sheriff said investigators at his office are working to determine if there was any kind of relationship prior to this.
"Those of us who worked with Vicky White and have done so for years, this is not the Vicky White we know by any stretch of the imagination," Singleton said. "She has been an exemplary employee – I was told by the director of the jail that Friday night it was like it was at a funeral wake. The employees are just devastated that she was involved in this. And they’re concerned for her safety, as are we. And we just hope this has a good ending."
Vicky White, who had been with the department for 17 years, had talked about retiring for the last three years and moving to the beach, Singleton said. Friday – the day she disappeared – was scheduled to be her last day on the job. Though her retirement papers had not been filed in the state retirement system pending an exit interview with a personnel director, the sheriff said White probably had access to some cash from the recent sale of her home.
Singleton revealed Monday that inmate White had been caught plotting an escape from Lauderdale County Jail back in 2020 and after a shank was found in his possession, he was transferred back to the state Department of Correction. He returned to the jail on Feb. 25, 2022, to attend scheduled court appearances in the area until the end of May when he was supposed to return to state custody.
"This is now a major case for the U.S. Marshals Service which triggers additional resources," U.S. Marshal for North Alabama Marty Keely added Monday.
The 38-year-old White was awaiting trial at the Lauderdale County Jail on two counts of capital murder in connection to the September 2020 brutal stabbing of 58-year-old Connie Ridgeway when he disappeared Friday. Authorities say White had already confessed to the murder ahead of the trial.
The escaped inmate, described as standing 6-foot-9-inches tall, weighing approximately 260 pounds, and having brown hair and hazel eyes, had already been serving time for a 2015 crime spree that authorities say involved a home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase.
"That’s what a capital murder charge is – the possibility of death, so he has nothing to lose. With his violent past, he is extremely dangerous," Singleton said Monday. "There’s going to be some law enforcement officers somewhere in this country or this state who are going to come across this guy. I can’t emphasize enough to our brothers and sisters in blue, don’t take any chances with this guy."
This is a developing news story. Check back for updates.