A car driven by former Alabama jail guard and a towering 6’9″ inmate with whom she shared a “special relationship” — likely romantic — turned up in a neighboring state before the authorities put out a bulletin that the duo was missing. That’s according to multiple law enforcement agencies.
“They found the car before we even knew they were gone,” said Lauderdale County, Ala. Sheriff Rick Singleton during a Friday afternoon press conference — as if to explain why the long-impounded vehicle’s connection to the case suddenly was discovered a week after the Whites vanished.
Vicky White, the 56-year-old assistant director of corrections, and Casey White, the 38-year-old murder suspect and inmate, took off on Friday, April 29, from the Lauderdale County, Ala. Detention Center, according to multiple official reports and video released by the authorities. The two are not related despite sharing the same common last name.
The duo departed from the local lockup in the guard’s squad car under the guise that the inmate was needed for a court-ordered mental health evaluation. Vicky White told a booking deputy that she would transport the inmate personally because others had already been transported to court and that she was the only person available to handle the move. She claimed she would then go to visit a doctor because she wasn’t feeling well.
Those were lies, according to the authorities, but they gave the duo a six-hour lead on the investigators who eventually started trailing them.
After ditching the patrol car in a parking lot, the Whites took off in a 2007 rust-cored Ford Edge which exhibited signs of minor damage on its rear bumper on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
That car turned up at about 11:00 p.m. on Thurs., May 5, “at a towing yard in the Bethesda area of Williamson County in Tennessee,” according to Alabama news website AL.com. The site is an online consortium of several local newspapers.
Bethesda is around 45 minutes due south of Nashville. It is about two hours northeast of Lauderdale County, Ala., and can be reached from the latter via a couple of local and U.S. highways.
The Williamson County, Tenn. Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that there “is NO sign the two [suspects] are still in our area.”
“The SUV was reported abandoned a week ago,” the Tennessee sheriff’s office wrote. “There were no tags on the vehicle and it was locked. It was identified last night and a search of the area where the SUV was found was conducted this morning. Nothing was found. The vehicle is being searched now.”
Sheriff Singleton said during a Friday afternoon press conference that the car was abandoned on a “rural road” in a “sparsely populated area” and that it appeared to not contain anything of evidentiary value. He said the car turned up before his office put out a bulletin that the Whites were likely in it. However, later on Friday, the authorities told CNN that Vicky White’s handcuffs, radio, and jail keys turned up inside the SUV.
While addressing the timeline of the matter, Singleton said the vehicle was reported abandoned shortly before 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 29 — the date the Whites disappeared — and was towed at 2:37 p.m. That was before Alabama authorities even knew the duo was gone and long before a bulletin was put out for the vehicle.
Singleton said he had been provided with photos that suggested that the Whites may have attempted to apply paint to the vehicle. Two images provided by the Tennessee sheriff’s office which announced the discovery of the vehicle did not initially appear to show any noticeable paint, but the Lauderdale Co., Ala Sheriff’s Office later released two images which show dark green paint on parts of the vehicle.
Singleton said he believed the Whites were engaged in a “jailhouse romance.” He also said Vicky White had “plenty of cash.”
Singleton said it was unclear where the couple might be. He said he did not know if the duo may have stolen another car or hitched a ride.
“Obviously they were taking the back roads,” Singleton said.
He later said there was “nothing in the car” and that he is assuming that the couple is still armed with Vicky White’s personal and service weapons.
Singleton said Tennessee authorities were canvassing the area where the car was found to see if anyone in the area saw anything suspicious.
The Alabama sheriff said his office received a tip that the car had been spotted in Oregon this morning — a tip which was obviously bogus.
“We’re grasping at straws,” the sheriff admitted when asked about the ongoing search.
Rewards have been offered by the Governor of Alabama and by the U.S. Marshals Service for information about the duo.
The sheriff also suggested that Vicky White could be in danger because Casey White was “volatile” and could be “set off” by anything at any time. But the sheriff also said the couple’s plan to escape was “very well thought out” and that Vicky White’s knowledge of law enforcement techniques definitely helped — and were almost certainly continuing to help — the duo.
The sheriff also noted that Vicky White used several aliases — including an alias to purchase the rust-colored car.
Images of Casey White’s tattoos released by the U.S. Marshals Service suggest that he may be affiliated with a white supremacist prison gang, Law&Crime and, later, the New York Post both noted on Thursday.
“You know we’re going to find you,” Singleton said when asked to speak directly to White. “Hopefully we find you safe.”
He implored his former jailer to turn herself in to local authorities — in case Casey White snapped and caused her harm.
Vicky White is charged via warrant with permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree; Singleton has reportedly said in the past that he believes she acted on her own volition in helping Casey White escape. Casey White is newly charged with second-degree escape.
The warrants and the sheriff’s press conference are below:
[Editor’s note: this piece has been updated to include additional detail.]
[images as noted]
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