Authorities in northwestern Alabama are searching for a sheriff’s official and a capital murder suspect after both went missing Friday, the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said.
Vicki White, assistant director of corrections for the sheriff’s office, and the suspect, Casey Cole White, left a detention center to go to a courthouse Friday morning but never arrived, the sheriff’s office said.
The two are not related, despite the last name.
Investigators are trying to determine whether Vicki White assisted Casey White, but are acting as if she was taken against her will until they know otherwise, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton told reporters.
“I do think this, knowing the inmate: I think she’s in danger, whatever the circumstances,” Singleton told reporters. “He was in jail for capital murder.”
Vicki White took Casey White from the detention center around 9:40 a.m., purportedly for a mental health evaluation at court, Singleton said.
But investigators have confirmed there was no evaluation scheduled, Singleton said.
She also transported the suspect by herself, which would be a strict violation of the policy requiring two sworn deputies for someone under those charges, the sheriff said.
The marked 2013 Ford Taurus patrol car that they were in was later found at a shopping center, Singleton said.
Casey White, 38, is charged with capital murder in connection with the 2015 death of Connie Ridgeway, who was slain in her home, NBC affiliate WAFF of Huntsville and Alabama news outlet AL.com reported.
A request to the district attorney for comment and more details about any scheduled court appearance was not immediately returned Friday evening.
Vicki White, an employee of 25 years who the sheriff said was well-regarded, told the booking officer when she left that she would be dropping off Casey White and was then going to a medical appointment because she wasn’t feeling well, Singleton said. There was no appointment, he said.
Officials realized the two were missing around 3:30 p.m. when no one could reach Vicki White, and after her phone went straight to voicemail, the sheriff said. It was then confirmed that Casey White had not returned to the detention center either, he said.
Investigators are looking for any video of the shopping center where the patrol vehicle was found to learn more about what happened, and are searching for both people, Singleton said.
Vicki White had a 9mm firearm, and it was not known whether there were any other weapons in the patrol vehicle, Singleton said.
Anyone who spots them should call 911 and not approach, the sheriff’s office said. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency issued a “blue alert” in the case.
A grand jury indicted Casey White in 2020 on two counts of capital murder in the killing of Ridgeway — one for murder during a burglary, and the other for murder for pecuniary gain, District Attorney Chris Connolly announced at the time.
Casey White was already in state prison on other convictions when he was indicted in Ridgeway killing, officials have said. He was brought back to Lauderdale County for trial in the murder case, the sheriff said.
Lauderdale County is in the northwest corner of Alabama, adjacent to the Tennessee and Mississippi state lines.