Alabama officials have discovered the abandoned car of a female prison official who broke the department’s policy when she picked up a capital murder suspect for a mental health evaluation – which her co-workers later discovered was never scheduled.
In a news conference Saturday night, Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton announced that Vicky White’s official vehicle, a 2013 Ford Taurus patrol car, was spotted in a shopping center parking lot at around 11am Friday.
Just about an hour and a half earlier, Singleton said, Vicky, an assistant director of corrections at the department, broke protocol when she picked up Casey Cole White, 38, from a detention center without other deputies present.
She had her 9mm handgun on her at the time, and told others she was due to take Casey White – who is not related to her – to a mental health evaluation before a scheduled court hearing. There was no such evaluation scheduled that day, however.
Casey was facing the death penalty for the October 2015 murder of Connie Ridgeway, 58, in her home in Rogersville, Alabama.
But under the Sheriff’s Department policy, Singleton said, two sworn deputies should have been with Casey at all times – including during transportation to court or mental health evaluations.
And as Vicki coordinated all the transports from the detention center, Singleton said, she would have known this protocol – but likely would not have been questioned by her subordinates due to her seniority.
‘All precautions were in place,’ Singleton told news reporters Saturday night. ‘The question we have for Director White is why she violated policy.’
Vicky White, assistant director of corrections for the sheriff’s department, went missing on Friday evening, having collected Casey Cole White (no relation) from prison
Lauderdale Sheriff Rick Singleton announced on Saturday that Vicky’s patrol car was found abandoned in a parking lot about an hour and a half after she ‘broke protocol’ to transport Casey
Vicky had been with the Sheriff’s Department for 25 years, and had recently spoken about retiring, he said, with Law and Crime reporting that she had turned in her retirement papers on Thursday.
Singleton said he and his deputies were ‘shocked and in disbelief’ about her disappearance, noting that she has been an exemplary employee and was named Supervisor of the Year.
Officers now believe Vicky was taken against her will, but will continue investigating any interaction between her and Casey White, as well as any phone calls he may have received.
‘Knowing the inmate, I think she’s in danger, whatever the circumstances,’ Singleton said. ‘He was in jail for capital murder and he had nothing to lose.
‘Whether she assisted him or not, we don’t know and we won’t address that until we have absolute proof that’s what happened,’ he added, noting: ‘We are assuming at this point that she was taken against her will, unless we can prove otherwise.’
The FBI and US Marshalls are now also assisting the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency in tracking down the pair.
Connie Ridgeway is pictured with her sons Austin and Cameron. She was murdered in October 2015 in what her killer said was a contract hit. No motive has ever been given
Singleton said on Saturday that officials with the Sheriff’s Department first became suspicious at around 3.30pm Friday, when officers at the jail realized Vicky had never returned.
They repeatedly tried to call her, he said, but her phone kept going to voicemail.
That’s when they realized Casey had never returned to the jail.
He is descried as six-foot-nine, and is considered armed and dangerous.
Casey was first arrested in December 2015, for the October murder of Ridgeway, who was found stabbed to death in a killing that shocked the small town of Rogersville – about 50 miles west of Huntsville.
It remains unclear why she was killed.
People said she was known for her friendliness and willingness to help others, and the community for many years held a vigil every October in her memory.
Casey’s arrest at the age of 32 finally came after he engaged in a crime spree across Tennessee and Alabama.
In one night, he staged a home invasion, two carjackings and multiple shootings that left a dog dead and a woman injured.
The crimes were followed by a chase, where speeds reached more than 100 miles per hour, WHNT reported.
It ended with a stolen car stuck in a field south of Huntsville, and officers – who were evidently well known to him – pleading with him to put down his gun and give himself up.
White got out of the vehicle with a gun and threatened to shoot officers and himself unless he could speak with Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely.
Body-cam footage shows deputies attempting to get White to surrender by offering him smokeless tobacco and Sun Drop citrus soda while they waited for Blakely to arrive.
Police are pictured in December 2015 taking Casey White into custody after a wild rampage across Tennessee and Alabama that ended in a 100mph car chase, and his stolen car stuck in a field
White is seen during the hearing in the case of Ridgeway’s murder in 2020
Casey White was found guilty of a total of nine charges, including trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and kidnapping her two roommates. Other charges included first degree robbery, first degree burglary, third degree burglary, breaking and entering a vehicle, animal cruelty for shooting a dog and attempting to elude.
He was sentenced in April 2019 to 75 years in prison.
In June 2020, he wrote to Lauderdale County requesting a meeting with the sheriffs office, and confessed to killing Ridgeway – providing a detailed description of the crime scene.
He said he was paid to kill her, although no motive for hiring a hitman has ever been disclosed.
In October 2020, Casey White, aged 37, appeared in court for an arraignment hearing, and requested to stay at the Lauderdale County Jail instead of going back to prison, WAFF reported.
His request was denied, after authorities said they believed that he was plotting to escape the Lauderdale County Jail.
They had found a makeshift knife, stashed in the showers, and suspected White was intending on using it to force someone to let him out.
‘We got information yesterday that he had made a shank and he intended to escape today and take a hostage,’ said Connolly, Lauderdale County district attorney, during the hearing.
‘Our deputies did a great job.
‘Found the shank and eliminated that threat this morning so we obviously aren’t equipped to house somebody like that for that long term in our jail, so we are happy that the judge ordered him to go back to the department of corrections.’
White, having confessed, then pleaded not guilty, on grounds of insanity.