FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - Authorities issued an arrest warrant Monday for a jail official who they say helped an inmate awaiting trial on a murder charge to escape from an Alabama jail. A search was on for the pair.
Inmate Casey Cole White, 38, was shackled and handcuffed when he and Vicky White, the facility's assistant director of corrections, left the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Florence, Alabama, on Friday morning. They have not been seen since, although the patrol vehicle that the pair used when leaving the detention center was found at a nearby shopping center parking lot after their absence was discovered.
Authorities have no idea where they are, although the inmate should be recognizable by his size. He stands 6 feet, 9 inches (2.06 meters) tall and weighs about 260 pounds. Authorities warned that anyone seeing the pair should not approach them.
"We consider both of them dangerous and in all probability, both individuals are armed," U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said at a press conference Monday. He noted that Casey White "will stand out" because of his size even if he has changed his appearance.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said Monday that they had issued an arrest warrant for Vicky White, 56, on charges of permitting or allowing an escape. She is not related to White.
She violated a policy that required more than one official to be involved in transporting him, according to Singleton. The policy was put in place when White was jailed two years ago and authorities believed he was planning to escape.
"We know she participated, whether she did that willingly or if she was coerced, threatened somehow to participate in the case, not really sure. We know for sure she did participate," Singleton said.
Vicky White told co-workers she was taking him to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation. But Singleton later said no such evaluation was scheduled. He said video showed the pair left the jail and went straight to that parking lot.
"Casey White, as you’ve heard me say over and over and over is an extremely dangerous person and we need to get him located and get him off the street," Singleton said.
White was already serving a 75-year prison sentence for attempted murder, robbery and burglary when he disappeared. He had been brought back to the jail because of his latest charge. He was set to go to trial next month on a capital murder charge accusing him of stabbing a 58-year-old woman to death during a burglary in 2015. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The U.S. Marshals Service is offering up to $10,000 for information.
The sheriff said they were shocked by the events that transpired.
"This is not the Vicky White we know, by any stretch of the imagination," the sheriff said.
Singleton said Vicky White had been an exemplary employee and jail employees are "just devastated."
Vicky White had planned to retire and that Friday was to be her last day. He said she had sold her home about a month ago and "talked about going to the beach."
The sheriff said they had no leads at this point on where the two are located.
"If we knew where they were at, we would be there and not here," Singleton said.
As an assistant director for corrections, Vicky White moved throughout the county detention facility several times a day and had multiple opportunities every day to be in contact with any given inmate, the sheriff said. Her job duties also included coordinating transport of inmates.
Vicky White's mother, Pat Davis, told WAAY that she is in shock and scared for her daughter.
"As a mother, I didn’t know how to act because I thought at first it was a mistake. And then when I found out for sure it was, it was just disbelief," says Pat Davis. She told the station that "we just want her back" and found it difficult to believe her daughter would help an inmate escape.
"She’s never done anything, I bet she’s never even had a speeding ticket," Pat Davis said.
The U.S. Marshals Service said anyone with information about Casey White’s location or Vicky White’s disappearance can call the service at 1-800-336-0102. Anonymous tips may also be submitted through the U.S. Marshals Tip App.