A sheriff’s deputy in Alabama has gone missing along with the murder suspect she was in the process of transferring to a court appearance earlier this week, a county sheriff’s office announced on Friday.
Casey Cole White, 38, was an inmate being held on murder charges over the 2015 stabbing death of Connie Jane Ridgeway, the victim of a murder-for-hire scheme, who was killed in her own home. In 2020, the defendant allegedly admitted that he was paid to kill Ridgeway.
On Friday, at around 9:30 a.m. inmate White was being transported by Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Director of Corrections Vicki White (no relation), to a court appearance when the two vanished, the LCSO said in a press release/alert.
“Casey White is being held on capital murder charges,” the alert says. “If anyone should spot them contact 911 immediately.”
According to the sheriff’s office, the disappearance of the two was not realized until roughly 3:30 p.m. that same day.
Vicki White was driving a marked vehicle at the time. That vehicle was discovered at a parking lot in Florence, Ala. at around 11:00 a.m. on the day in question. Authorities say they do not know which direction the two may have gone at this time.
“We’re still aggressively investigating, trying to find out what happened and find the location of Deputy White and inmate White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said during a press conference on April 19, 2022. “Knowing the inmate, I think she’s in danger whatever the circumstances. He was in jail for capital murder, and he had nothing to lose.”
Singleton added Vicki White has been an employee with the sheriff’s office for some 25 years and told her subordinates that she was taking Casey White in for a mental health evaluation before she would drop the inmate off and then seek medical attention for herself because she was under the weather. Traveling alone with inmates, however, is a “strict violation” of departmental policy, the sheriff said, suggesting that the deputy was likely not questioned due to her seniority.
Since “aggressively” beginning their investigation, Singleton said, investigators have learned that Casey White never made it to the courthouse, never had any evaluations scheduled, and that Vicki White never turned up at any urgent care locations in the area.
The sheriff said that he and his department were “shocked” at the turn of events and allowed for the distinct possibility that his employee had allowed the inmate to escape–but that Casey White also could have overpowered and kidnapped Vicki White. The deputy, he noted, had turned in her retirement papers the day before she and the murder suspect went missing. Singleton also said the investigation would take a look at previous interactions between the two to “see if something else was going on.”
“Whether she assisted him or not, we don’t know, and we won’t address that until we have absolute proof that that’s what happened,” the sheriff said. “We are assuming at this point that she was taken against her will unless we can absolutely prove otherwise.”
The mysterious disappearing act has taken on national levels of interest as the FBI and U.S. Marshals are currently assisting the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency in trying to track the duo down.
“Investigators are currently attempting to locate any video that may tell us more about what we’re dealing with,” Singleton said.
The defendant was previously in Alabama state custody but was transferred to Lauderdale County over the Ridgeway killing. He has previously been convicted of robbery in the first degree, burglary in the first and third degrees, burglary of a vehicle, animal cruelty for killing a dog, and attempting to elude law enforcement. He has additionally been accused of attempted murder and kidnapping.
A so-called “Blue Alert” has been issued in the case.
[images via Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office]
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