Jail official accused of helping murder suspect escape had 'special relationship'

Watch the moment Vicky White was captured taking inmate Casey White in her patrol car and leaving the jail

A manhunt is underway for a murder suspect and a jail official accused of helping him to escape after forming a "special relationship" with him, according to police.

Casey Cole White, 38, was being held behind bars at the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Florence, Alabama, awaiting trial next month for a capital murder charge.

Assistant director of corrections at the facility, Vicky White, 56, told co-workers she was taking the inmate to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation on Friday morning.

But the pair, who are not related, have not been seen since.

Lauderdale Sheriff Rick Singleton revealed the official, who has been with the department for 16 years, had formed a relationship with the 6ft9 inmate that included allowing him privileges while jailed.

"We have confirmed through independent sources and other means that there was in fact a relationship between Casey White and Vicky White outside of her normal work hours - not physical contact, but a relationship of a different nature," Mr Singleton told CNN.

"We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates," he added.

Casey White was serving time behind bars for attempted murder, robbery and burglary.

The US Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 (around £7,980) reward for information leading to the capture of the pair.

A warrant has also been issued for Vicky White's arrest for permitting or assisting in an escape.

How did the pair escape?

The jail official was captured on CCTV leaving the facility with Casey White and getting into a car. She was armed at the time.

Vicky White had told colleagues she was heading to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation for the inmate, and would then go to a doctor's appointment as she wasn't feeling well.

But officials later discovered there was no mental health evaluation scheduled at the courthouse and while the doctor's surgery confirmed Vicky White did have an appointment, she never showed up.

Vicky White is seen opening the door for Casey White to leave the facility. Credit: Lauderdale County Sheriff

Officials said no one realised the two were missing until about six hours after they left the jail.

Colleagues tried to contact Vicky White but her phone repeatedly went to voicemail.

They later found her patrol car, that the pair had left in, at a nearby shopping centre car park.

The pair are seen getting into her patrol car and driving off. Credit: Lauderdale County Sheriff

Who are Casey White and Vicky White?

Casey White was already serving a 75-year prison sentence for a string of crimes that included attempted murder, robbery and burglary.

While in prison, he had confessed to the 2015 stabbing death of a 58-year-old woman, authorities said, which caused him to be brought to the Lauderdale County jail for court proceedings.

Casey White is considered 'dangerous' and potentially armed, said officials. Credit: U.S. Marshals Service

The sheriff said they believe he plotted an earlier escape from the jail in 2020 when they found a makeshift knife.

Sheriff Singleton said Vicky White had announced plans to retire and the day she disappeared would have been her last day at work.

He said she had been an "exemplary employee" with an "unblemished record", adding: "This is not the Vicky White we know, by any stretch of the imagination."

Vicky White was described as an 'exemplary employee'. Credit: U.S. Marshals Service

He said the fact she left alone with an inmate with murder a charge violated department policy, and she should have had "two sworn deputies escort them".

"All of her co-workers are devastated. We've never had any situation like this with Vicky White. She was a model employee," he told CNN.

He added that colleagues are "trying to hold on to the last straw of hope" that she was perhaps threatened and helped the inmate escape under coercion, but all indications are that she "did this willingly" leaving the department feeling "betrayed".

Family members and colleagues said they are bewildered by her involvement.

“I just can’t picture Vicky running off with that man,” her former mother-in-law, Frances White, said in a telephone interview.

She remained fond of her daughter-in-law decades after she divorced her son in 1991. He died earlier this year.

The Marshals Service has urged the public not to approach either Vicky White or Casey White as both are considered "dangerous and may be armed with an AR-15 rifle, handguns and a shotgun".