A local jail guard who stands accused of helping a capital murder suspect flee from custody on the day she was set to retire called the inmate while he was behind bars in a separate state facility, an Alabama sheriff told NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday. And a local television station reported late Thursday that the actual escape wasn’t the couple’s first attempt.
Vicky White, the 56-year-old guard (and the boss on duty at the time), and inmate Casey White, 38, were involved in what the sheriff previously described as a “special relationship” — one the authorities increasingly believe was romantic in nature, according to several reports. Though the guard and the inmate share the same last name, they are not related.
“Authorities believe the officer and inmate had a romantic relationship that extended into Vicky White’s non-work hours,” CNN reported after speaking with Lauderdale County, Ala. Sheriff Rick Singleton.
Vicky White faces an arrest warrant for permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree. The authorities say she offered to take the inmate to a court appointment for a mental health evaluation — an appointment that didn’t exist — and broke jail protocol by offering to transport him alone — by herself — under the guise that other inmates had already been transported to court and that she was the only person remaining on staff who was able to handle the move. The person who normally kept watch over such moves was Vicky White’s subordinate; he was unlikely to question his boss, the sheriff has said. White also claimed she was going to the doctor after the transport move because she didn’t feel well. The moves gave the couple a six-hour head start, according to local television reports.
Sheriff Singleton told the “Today” show that that the guard and the inmate had a relationship that dated back at least two years — possibly more — and included contact a state prison.
The inmate was initially housed in the Lauderdale County Detention Center where Vicky White worked. However, he was shipped to the W. E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, a state prison about two hours and twenty minutes away, after an arraignment and a preliminary hearing near the county facility.
Though the sheriff initially told NBC that the wanted jailer visited the inmate personally while he was in state custody, he later corrected that statement in a press release obtained by NBC. Instead, the sheriff said the two were “in contact via phone,” NBC later reported.
The precise content of the telephone calls between the Whites remains unclear, NBC said; a video report which aired on the network said “logs or video” weren’t ready for public release.
Citing anonymous sources, Huntsville, Ala. ABC affiliate WAAY-TV reported Thursday evening that the couple’s Friday, April 29 escape wan’t the first attempt. Instead, authorities now believe the couple attempted the move three days prior to the actual event — on Tuesday, April 26. Though some officials wouldn’t directly confirm the alleged events of Tuesday, April 26, Sheriff Singleton told the TV station that it was very possible that Vicky White “could have tested” the escape plan.
Casey White, who is a towering 6’9″ tall, and Vicky White, who is 5’5″ tall, have not been seen since they both fled together. They ditched her squad car and took off in a rust-colored Ford Edge; they are believed to be armed with Vicky White’s service weapon and personal weapons, which include an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun, and another pistol, according to the sheriff.
The U.S. Marshals Service has established rewards for information leading to the capture of the duo.
Casey White had reportedly confessed to stabbing a 58-year-old woman named Connie Ridgeway but was awaiting trial in the matter, according to NBC. He was already jailed over a 2015 home invasion, police chase, and carjacking incident, the U.S. Marshals Service has said.
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